Maybe they should rename the Ameritech Senior Open the Hale Irwin Invitational.
Irwin shot a 5-under 67 Sunday and got a little help from Bruce Fleisher in winning his second straight Ameritech Senior Open title and third in five years. Fleisher, the Senior PGA Tour money leader, saw his chances for victory drown with a water ball on No. 16, and Irwin went on to win by a stroke.
Irwin shot a 10-under 206 for the $1.3 million tournament at Kemper Lakes. It was his fourth victory this season, and second in three tournaments.
Even after Fleisher's water shot, Irwin's victory still wasn't secure. Raymond Floyd had a 45-foot birdie putt on 18 that would have tied Irwin and forced a playoff, but he narrowly missed it.
Fleisher and Floyd both finished at 9-under 207, tied with CBS color analyst Gary McCord. McCord had the best round of the day, including an eagle on the par-5 No. 4 and finishing with a 7-under 65.
Fred Gibson, a journeyman pro who was an unlikely co-leader after the second round, fell out of contention with a double bogey on No. 8 and finished at 5-under 211.
Irwin, who birdied five holes on the front nine Saturday, got off to another quick start Sunday. He birdied No. 1, sinking an eight-foot putt and drawing applause from the crowd.
He got another on the par-5 No. 4, blasting out of a bunker to three feet from the pin and making the putt. He missed a birdie putt on No. 5 by an inch, but made a 10-footer on No. 6 to join Floyd in the lead at 8 under.
He took the lead by himself on the next hole, landing two feet from the cup on his third shot and making the easy birdie putt.
But Irwin couldn't move off of 9 under. Fleisher, meanwhile, was catching up. He had birdies on Nos. 4, 5, 12 and 14, and he took the lead at 10-under with another birdie on No. 15.
Then, disaster struck on No. 16. With 201 yards to go, Fleisher's second shot hit a rock and skipped into the water on the right side of the hole. As if that wasn't bad enough, he missed an 8-foot bogey putt.
Fleisher picked up a birdie on the par-3 17th, but Irwin had birdied the 15th and Fleisher missed a 27-foot birdie putt from the edge of the green on the last hole.
Floyd got to 8 under on the second hole, playing the par-4 almost perfectly. His drive was right down the middle of the fairway, his second shot landed five feet from the pin and he made the putt for birdie. But he couldn't get any further, missing several birdie putts by mere inches.
He finally picked up another stroke on the par-3 13, chiping in from about 37 feet from the green.
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