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Finishing second at Turtle Bay earned Gary McCord a spot in the Senior Tour Championship.

Exhausted McCord
gains second

Playoff breakthrough gives Irwin win
Unlucky 18th hole keeps Mast out of playoff

By Paul Arnett

Gary McCord was on the road for so long, he threw away all the clothes he took with him the one day he went home. Such is life for a man who spends 19 weekends of the year in a TV tower as a golf analyst for CBS and another 20 plying his trade on the Senior PGA Tour.

As he put it yesterday after losing to Hale Irwin in a playoff at the Turtle Bay Championship, "I'm tired.

"It's been four years of it now. It's an easy job. It's a great job. But you've got to travel to get there. I'm tired. I've got two more years of television. Television has been great for me. So I'm going to cut back on golf quite a bit."

How much depends on the 2003 schedule for the Senior Tour, which hasn't been mapped out just yet. McCord knows what he has to do for CBS. He will then plan his golf schedule around that. But when you're 54, life on the road gets older by the day.

"I'm at the mercy of television," McCord said. "I try to play in tournaments that I'm not doing for CBS. I don't know if anybody knows the schedule for next year on the Senior Tour. Most of the stuff at the end of the year might be gone, and that's when I'd be able to play.

"I'm playing too many. I think 20 this year. I barely have time to lay down. I went five and a half months living out of the same suitcase. Same clothes. I went home for a day. I hadn't seen the house. Threw them all away. They were Tommy Bahamas, so there were guys all over the place in the garbage (saying), "Look at this suit! All right!"

This is the 27th consecutive week McCord has been heading somewhere other than Paradise Valley, Ariz. By finishing second in this event and pocketing the $132,000 that goes with it, McCord moved into the top-31 money winners.

"Which extends my year by one more week," McCord noted.

He is now eligible to play in the season-ending Senior Tour Championship in Oklahoma City. Only the top 31 money winners for 2002 can take part in that tourney. Not that that's a bad thing for McCord. Golf is still a lot of fun for him.

"Oh yeah, especially when you make a couple of putts," McCord said. "That's good. That's good."

It was also fortunate for McCord to play with eventual winner Irwin all three rounds. He figured if he could keep a close eye on the defending champion, and arguably the greatest Senior Tour player of all time, it could only benefit him.

Irwin rarely gave McCord any wiggle room during yesterday's final round.

He extended his one-shot lead to two with a birdie on the first hole, but McCord stayed within shouting distance with birdies on three, seven, eight and nine. The twosome made the turn for the back nine tied for second at 8-under, one stroke behind Dick Mast.

Neither had a birdie on the back side in regulation, but Mast managed bogeys on Nos. 13 and 14 to fall one shot off the pace. McCord and Irwin parred the 18th, forcing a 55th hole. McCord sent his drive into the rough, forcing him to lay up. Irwin hit a perfect drive and knocked his second shot just over the green.

His chip out of a little bird's-nest rough left him a 10-footer for birdie. McCord's third landed 18 feet away. He putted first for birdie and missed badly.

"I thought it would break right, but it went left," McCord said.

Irwin's went straight in, just like he thought it would, to win this event for a third consecutive time. It was the first playoff win for Irwin in six tries.

"Give Hale a lot of credit," McCord said. "He's very tough to beat. We were joined at the hip this week, which was a lot of fun."

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