Jodie Mudd lodged one shot between a photographer's stomach and belt, hit another ball out of bounds -- and went on to win the biggest prize in American golf.

"I'm bewildered how I can play a front side like that and win the golf tournament," Mudd said yesterday in Houston after his one-hole playoff victory over Billy Mayfair in the Nabisco Championships.

Mudd got a free drop from the photographer's belt, put his various front-nine adventures out of his mind and birdied the last three holes -- the 17th and 18th of regulation and the first playoff hole.

"I really didn't think I had that kind of game," said Mudd, who had won only three titles in a nine-year PGA Tour career. Monetarily, this was the biggest. His 15-foot birdie putt secured first prize of $450,000 and another $40,000 from a yearlong bonus pool that also closed in this season-ending event.

So, from a position on the front nine at which he thought he had bought the farm, he's now in position to buy one. He said he has his eye on a 200-acre spread in Kentucky and has his big check earmarked for it.

While Mudd and Mayfair struggled for the title over the back nine, Greg Norman never really got into it, matched par 71 and tied for seventh at 279, six shots out.

But it was enough to get him the year's money-winning title and probably his second consecutive Vardon Trophy for low scoring average. Norman won $82,500 from the tournament purse of $2.5 million, and $175,000 from the bonus pool. It put him up to $1,165,477 for the 1990 tour. The official scoring figures will be announced today.

Wayne Levi, the only four-time winner on the tour this season, came from a tie for 12th with a round of 63 and tied for third at 276. That was worth $146,250. He added in $106,000 from the bonus pool and found his total to be $1,024,647, second on the year's list. He is only the fifth man on the American tour to make $1 million in a season.

On the first playoff hole after they tied at 68 -- 273 on the Champions club's Cypress Creek course, Mayfair pushed his drive into the woods and had to play out. He hit a 9-iron third shot to five feet from the flag and needed that for par. He never got to putt it. Mudd hit his approach to about 15 feet and converted.

Mayfair won $270,000, plus a $26,000 bonus.