CARLSBAD, CALIF., JAN. 6 -- Tom Kite looked at the leader board today with four holes to go in the final round of the Tournament of Champions and got an unpleasant surprise.

It showed he'd lost four shots to Lanny Wadkins in a three-hole stretch and suddenly trailed by one in the kickoff event of the PGA Tour.

"It was ugly," Kite said.

It was a lot prettier when next he glanced at another electronic board by the 17th green. He was ahead again, by one stroke.

"I just screwed up," Wadkins said of the 17th-hole three-putt bogey that cost him dearly.

"I was trying to make the first putt {about 18 feet} and hit it too hard {four feet past}. Trying to put the heat on him, I took the heat off him."

Both 41-year-old veterans parred the final hole at La Costa and Kite escaped with a one-stroke victory, his second in this event that brings together only the winners of tour events from the previous season.

He acquired the 15th title of his 20-year tour career with a 69, his fourth consecutive effort in the 60s, and a 272 total, 16 under par.

"This is a great start for me. But that's all it is, a start," Kite said. "I'm dedicated to making this the best year I've ever had."

Wadkins shot 68 -- "by far the highest score I could have had today," he said -- and finished at 273.

Three strokes back, Chip Beck, Wayne Levi (66) and Fred Couples tied for third.

Kite, who opened the day with a two-stroke edge, made it three with a 35-foot birdie on the 10th. Wadkins, playing ahead of Kite, responded with three consecutive birdies, beginning on the 12th, to pull even. And when Kite missed the 14th green and bogeyed, Wadkins was the leader.

Kite, however, used his cross-handed putting stroke to drop a 20-footer on the 16th and catch up.

In a simultaneous competition for the winners of Senior PGA Tour events in 1990, Bruce Crampton turned back Frank Beard's bid.

"If they have to go into combat, I hope the American forces in Saudi Arabia do as well in the sand as I did today," Crampton said.

He got up and down from the sand five times in a front-running 71 for a four-shot victory on a 279 total, 9 under par. It was his 18th victory in five seasons on the over-50 circuit and his richest, $80,000.