Tom Kite struck while the irons were hot.

And that, he said, was the key to his playoff victory over John Cook in the St. Jude Classic yesterday in Memphis.

Specifically, it was a 7-iron shot that left Kite 15 feet from his first victory this year and from becoming the PGA Tour's first $6 million man.

"I take the attitude in a playoff that you have to deliver the first blow," said Kite, after dropping his birdie putt on the par-4, 430-yard 13th, the first hole of sudden death.

"I was 146 yards from the hole and I was going right at it. You can't count on someone making a mistake on a playoff hole. You've got to go for the birdie."

But Cook, tied for the third-round lead with Kite, did make a mistake, his approach landing in a leftside bunker. "I tried to cozy an 8-iron and I should have hit a hard 9. It was a mistake and next time I'll know better," he said.

The $180,000 winner's share pushed Kite's earnings to $6,144,890.

Kite and Cook shot 67s on the 7,006-yard, par-71 TPC course at Southwind, finishing at 269. David Canipe was third at 69 -- 272.

Boston Five Classic: Barb Mucha, who failed to qualify for the 1988 LPGA Tour after playing in 1987, won her first tournament by birdieing the second playoff hole to beat Lenore Rittenhouse in Danvers, Mass.

On 377-yard, par-4 No. 1, Rittenhouse missed a 40-foot birdie putt and settled for a par. Mucha, the third-round leader by one stroke, put her second shot six feet to the right of the hole.

She knocked in the putt for $52,500, moving her from 37th to 18th on the money list with $125,788.

As promised, Mucha celebrated by jumping into the pond alongside the 18th fairway of the 6,008-yard Tara Ferncroft course.

Mucha and Rittenhouse finished 72 holes at 11-under 277, setting up the first playoff in the 11-year history of the tournament. Rittenhouse shot 65 yesterday and Mucha 69. Cindy Rarick was third at 66 -- 278.

Paine-Webber Invitational: In Charlotte, N.C., Bruce Crampton shot 4-under 68 to win just his third PGA Senior tournament since returning from a stress-related illness that sidelined him 11 weeks. He totaled 205 for 54 holes, edging Tom Shaw (69 yesterday) by one stroke.

"It's totally unexpected," Crampton said. "I didn't think I was even close to being ready."

Course designer Arnold Palmer made his 15th career hole-in-one on the 186-yard 12th hole. "The funny thing about it is, that's probably one of the best shots I've hit in a long time," said Palmer, whose 4-iron shot landed eight feet from the hole before rolling in. He finished well back at 220.