Despite the best efforts of a professional actor to upstage him, Paul Azinger grabbed the spotlight and the $1.1 million Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf title yesterday in California with a magnificent 5-iron shot.
Azinger's tee shot on the storied 17th -- where Jack Nicklaus won the 1972 U.S. Open with a 1-iron into the wind -- slammed the door on any would-be challengers and assured him of his seventh career victory.
Azinger, earning $198,000, broke a 13-month winless run with a bogey-free 67 on the links along the Monterey Peninsula's cliffs and crags of Carmel Bay. He won by four strokes with a 274 total, 14 under par.
Brian Claar and Corey Pavin tied for second. Pavin had a no-bogey 67 and Claar birdied the last hole for 68. Third-round leader Rocco Mediate (74), Davis Love III (73) and Mike Smith (65) ended at 279.
Putting it in perspective, Azinger said: "I was nervous . . . trying to win a golf tournament. And I was thinking about those guys in the Persian Gulf and what they're trying to accomplish. With their lives on the line. I was thinking about them all day."
But he also had to be aware of Jack Wagner, an actor in the television series "General Hospital."
Wagner, teaming with John Cook in the pro-am portion of the event once called "the Crosby Clambake," helped his pro partner 25 strokes in four rounds and was the subject of much of the national TV coverage.
"I'd never heard of him," Azinger said, "but that guy can play."
Wagner and Cook won the pro-am with a better-ball score of 255, one ahead of the Richmond duo of Bobby Wadkins and former national amateur champion Vinny Giles.
Azinger, who now leads the PGA Tour with victories in five consecutive seasons, pulled into a four-way tie for the lead with a 3-wood second shot that set up an eight-foot eagle putt on the second hole.
He went in front with a monster putt of about 50 feet on the fourth.
Senior PGA: Gary Player overcame stiff wind, occasional rain and surges by Bob Charles and Lee Trevino to win the Royal Caribbean Classic by two shots with a 68 for a tournament-record 13-under-par 200 on the Links at Key Biscayne, Fla.
Player began the day with a two-stroke lead, kept it and collected his 16th Senior PGA Tour title. Despite the weather, Trevino and Charles each shot a closing 66 to share second place with Chi Chi Rodriguez.
LPGA: Meg Mallon held a two-shot lead over Dottie Mochrie when heavy rain halted the fourth round of the LPGA Classic in Lake Worth, Fla., suspending play until today.