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LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Lanny Wadkins has a reputation as a streak player.
Recent success notwithstanding, he denies it.
″I’ve won 14 tournaments and more than $2 million. If that’s a streak, it’s a pretty good one,″ he said Sunday after a run-away, record-setting triumph in the Los Angeles Open golf tournament, his second victory in a three-week-old PGA Tour season.
″I don’t think I’m a streak player at all. I know I have that reputation. But last year was the only time I’ve been completely healthy for a full season and gone through the year without winning or without being in the top 10 (money-winners).
″And that was close to being a good year,″ said Wadkins, who played well most of the season, won $198,996 and was runner-up in the PGA national championship.
″Actually, the PGA may have been a turning point for me. I was awfully disappointed, but I told Penny (his wife) we were just going to take it from there and make 1985 the biggest year I’ve ever had.″
Wadkins paused for a moment, let the hint of a smile play across his face, and added:
″I’ve got an awfully good start on it.″
Wadkins, who said he was playing about as well as he ever has, fired an aggressive, 7-under-par 64 in the final round and won the Los Angeles title by 7 strokes, the largest winning margin on the Tour in more than two years.
More significantly, it gave Wadkins a 264 total, 20 under par, six shots better than anyone ever before had played the tough Riviera Country Club layout, long considered one of this country’s premier tests of tournament golf.
″To play Riviera 20 under par, well, I’m almost speechless,″ Wadkins said. ″It’s something I’ll remember for a long time.″
The victory was worth $72,000 from the total purse of $400,000 and lifted his earnings for the young season to $172,350. It also enabled the 35-year-old Wadkins to become only the ninth player to go beyond $2 million in career earnings.
Wadkins won the Bob Hope Classic that opened the Tour three weeks ago. In that one, he had to come from four shots back with five holes to go to tie Craig Stadler, then struggled through five holes of sudden death before winning.
This one was as easy as that one was tough.
It was, simply, no contest.
Wadkins started the final round two shots in front, and was never even tied.
He nailed it down with a string of four consecutive birdies beginning on the ninth hole and ending with a short-iron approach that came to within two inches of being eagle-2 on the 12th.
That gave him a 7-shot lead with six to play and he brought it home in style, finishing with a card that showed no bogeys, no 5s and reduced the rest of it to a fight for second.
″It’s a funny thing about a big lead,″ said Wadkins, one of the game’s most aggressive players. ″The more of a lead I have, the more of a lead I want. I just kept the pedal to the metal.″
Hal Sutton gained the No. 2 spot with an 18-hole birdie that lifted him one shot in front of Corey Pavin. Sutton, who hasn’t won since taking the 1983 PGA national championship at Riviera, had a closing 69 and a 271 total. Pavin was 70-272.
Stadler came on with a 66 and was tied at 273 with Chip Beck and Gary Koch. Beck played the last 18 in 70, Koch in par 71.
Calvin Peete, winner of the Phoenix Open, was well back at 70-278. Jack Nicklaus was 71-279 and Tom Watson 72-281.