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Carter Charges To Tucson Win

For 13 years, Jim Carter knew the sting of disappointment trying to make his mark on golf's top tour.

When he wept after the Tucson Open, this time he shed tears of joy and relief.

"I dream about winning all the time," the 1983 NCAA champion said Sunday after he surged from behind with a 6-under-par 66 that answered his dreams.

Carter, who played at Arizona State and lives in Scottsdale, gave himself a pep talk on the way to Tucson. He won two college tournaments in the area in 1984, one at the Tucson National.

"I was talking to myself and just saying, 'You know that you won tournaments on this course before.' So I was just trying to put good, positive thoughts in my head," he said.

The breakthrough came in Carter's 292nd tour event as he beat third-round leader Tom Scherrer, Chris DiMarco and Jean Van De Velde by two shots.

The $540,000 winner's share is about $80,000 more than Carter earned last year, his best season, and shot him to sixth on the money list with $580,763.

His best finish until this event was third four times in 1989, 1995, 1996 and 1998 and he hadn't had a top 10 finish since last June.

The field was diluted by the absence of the top stars who played in the Match Play Championship, but Carter didn't back in. His 19-under 269 matched David Duval's winning score of two years ago the best in four years since the tournament abandoned a two-course format and settled on Tucson National.

He also beat players of the caliber of Van de Velde, last year's runner-up at the British Open, and 1996 U.S. Open winner Steve Jones, who bogeyed the last hole and wound up tied with Rick Fehr for fifth at 272.

First-round leader Steve Lowery, Woody Austin, Steve Flesch and Kirk Triplett, who won his first title last week in Los Angeles, were grouped at 273, with Kevin Sutherland and Ted Purdy at 274.

Casey Martin, who has a circulatory disease in his right leg and is, by court, order, allowed to ride a cart in PGA Tour tournaments, had his best performance in five starts this year.

Martin finished with a 71 for a 276 total. He tied for 17th with seven other players, including Stephen Ames.

Ames and Purdy began the round a stroke behind Scherrer, but shot themselves out of contention quickly.

Scherrer bogeyed two of the first four holes, but made his second birdie of the round on the ninth hole and reached 18-under with another birdie on No. 10.

That was as far as his clubs would take him, and all it did was get him within one stroke of Carter, who had opened the first two-shot lead of the afternoon when he rolled in a 3-foot birdie putt on the 11th hole.

"I knew someone was going to make a run," said Scherrer, who finished with a 72 after three bogeys. He had just one in the first three rounds. "I didn't know who it would be, and it turned out to be Jim. That was a great round of golf he had today. I knew someone would do it, and I just didn't quite keep pace."

Carter birdied the first three holes with a 45-foot putt from the fringe, a 5-footer after a chip and a curling, 18-foot putt on No. 3, and got to 17-under on the eighth hole with another difficult birdie a chip from 20 feet.

"Right away those thoughts jump in your head," he said about the adrenaline rush. "And then you have to slap yourself around, because you can't think like that. I mean, I've done that before get all excited and, you know, it just turns into a mess, so I did a very good job of keeping my mind empty."

Carter got his seventh birdie on the 14th hole. He made his only bogey on No. 17, a par-3, when his tee shot landed in a bunker and he chipped 10 feet past, two-putting from there.

But DiMarco, who also shot 66, had finished, and Scherrer and Van de Velde were unable to capitalize. Van de Velde played the last five holes without making a birdie, and when Scherrer bogeyed No. 16, Carter had a shot to give on the 18th green.

He parred it to maintain his margin.

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