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Hatalasky defeats Simpson by one stroke

4/2/2006 - Golf

PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico -- Morris Hatalsky won his first
Champions Tour title in nearly three years Sunday, closing with a
2-under 70 for a one-stroke victory over Scott Simpson in the Blue
Agave Golf Classic.

The 54-year-old Hatalsky, who won the last of his two tour
titles at the Columbus Southern Open in May 2003, had a 9-under 207
total on the Jack Nicklaus-designed Vista Vallarta Golf Club
course. He earned $240,000.

Simpson also shot a 70. The 1987 U.S. Open winner bogeyed No. 17
and parred the 18th after missing a 6-foot birdie try.

Hatalsky said Simpson's miss left him content to take his only
bogey of the final round on 18, knowing he was two strokes ahead.

"That really dictated me playing way to the right, just trying
to catch the green somehow and playing for three putts," Hatalsky
said.

Simpson said he thought he hit a good putt.

"I just pulled it," he said. "That's disappointing. I'd love
to be in a playoff right now."

Mike Reid (70) and Gil Morgan (71) tied for third at 7 under,
Tom Kite (69) followed at 6 under, and R.W. Eaks (70) and Mark
Johnson (71) were another stroke back.

Hatalsky, a San Diego native, was 17 when he joined a team of
top junior golfers from Southern California and went to Mexico
City, where he won the Mexico Junior Championship in 1968. Fellow
teen golfers threw him a lake on the 18th hole of the capital's La
Hacienda course to celebrate his victory.

It took nearly four decades, but he has another victory south of
the border -- and this time he didn't have to go for an unscheduled
swim.

"There's a certain feeling that you have of knowing you did
something as a youngster in a great country like Mexico. And to
come back as a Champions Tour player, a senior player, and to win
again, that's quite a feat," Hatalsky said.

But, he added, "I don't know if I've come full circle because I
think I'm better now than I was when I was 17."

The tournament marked the Champions Tour's sixth stop in Mexico,
but first since the 2004 MasterCard Classic, played outside Mexico
City.