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Gossett proves he belongs in pros with win

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SILVIS, Ill. — David Gossett hopes the comparisons to Tiger Woods don't stop now.

Gossett shot a 5-under-par 66 Sunday, and his 72-hole total of 265, 19-under-par, was good for a 1-stroke victory over Briny Baird at the John Deere Classic at the TPC at Deere Run.

The 1999 U.S. Amateur champion is the first player to win playing under a sponsor exemption since Tiger Woods in the 1996 Las Vegas Invitational.

"It's good to be in that kind of company," Gossett said. "Tiger has had a great career thus far, and at 22 years of age, to have a win under my belt on the PGA Tour is something I'm very pleased with."

Gossett missed becoming a full-time member of the Tour by four shots at the 2000 PGA Tour Qualifying School in December and had been playing full-time on the Buy.Como Tour. Though he hadn't won on the Buy.Com Tour, Gossett had one second-place finish and had earned $116,288, good for 14th place on the money list.

Gossett also had played in five PGA Tour events this year. His best finish prior to Sunday was 28th in the FedEx St. Jude Classic, where he earned $25,375.

Sunday's win makes Gossett fully exempt on the PGA Tour for the remainder of the 2001 season and all of the 2002 and 2003 seasons. He will play in the PGA Championship in three weeks and in the Mercedes Championships in January.

Gossett led the trio of Baird, Bradley Hughes and Paul Stankowski by one stroke heading into the final round and never trailed, though he found himself tied for the lead on more than one occasion.

The first came when Pete Jordan birdied the seventh hole to tie him at 16 under. Later, Baird drained a birdie putt at No. 11 to climb into a tie with Gossett at 17 under.

Baird would also tie Gossett at 18-under after Gossett birdied the 13th and Baird birdied the 14th, but Gossett took the lead for good with a birdie at the par-4 15th.

"It feels great," Gossett said.

Gossett joined Jose Coceres and Retief Goosen as the third nonmember of the PGA Tour to win a Tour event this year.

"I felt calm and at peace with myself with whatever happened," Gossett said. "I've been doing the right stuff and looking forward to getting myself in position to win a golf tournament. This is what I play for, to compete and win this trophy. To win is awesome."

GIANT EAGLE LPGA CLASSIC: At Vienna, Ohio, for the second year in a row Dorothy Delasin overcame a four-stroke deficit and Se Ri Pak in the final round to win the Giant Eagle LPGA Classic on Sunday.

Delasin shot a 7-under 65 — the lowest round of the day on the Squaw Creek course — to pass both Pak and Tammie Green on the back nine and collect the first-place check of $150,000.

STATE FARM SENIOR CLASSIC: At Hunt Valley, Md., in a duel between the top two money winners on the senior tour, Allen Doyle made a 4-foot par putt on the third playoff hole to beat Bruce Fleisher in the rain-soaked State Farm Senior Classic.

Doyle, the Ford Senior Players winner this month, shot a 5-under 67 to match Fleisher (69) at 11-under 205.

TNT OPEN: At Noordwijk, Netherlands, Germany's Bernhard Langer won the TNT Open, defeating England's Warren Bennett on the first playoff hole for his first title in four years.

Langer, also the 1984 and 1992 winner, earned $255,000 and jumped seven spots in the Ryder Cup points to seventh.

SENIOR BRITISH OPEN: At Newcastle, Northern Ireland, Australia's Ian Stanley won the Senior British Open on the first hole of a playoff with two-time champion Bob Charles of New Zealand.

Stanley shot a 69, and Charles closed with a 68 for 6-under 278 totals. Jack Nicklaus, playing in the tournament for the first time, shot a 69 to tie for third, three strokes back.