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Andrade Survies Duel in the Desert

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There was a shootout in the desert on Sunday; and when the dust settled, Billy Andrade emerged as the last man standing.
 
Andrade made a four-foot bogey putt on the final hole of regulation to better Phil Mickelson by one shot at the Invensys Classic in Las Vegas.
 
Andrade birdied the 16th and 17th holes to take a two-shot lead into the par-4 18th, where an errant drive led to an unplayable lie. Needing a bogey to avoid a playoff, Andrade two-putted from 35 feet for his first victory since the 1998 Bell Canadian Open.
 
Jonathan Kaye set the tone for the day at the TPC at Summerlin. Kaye played holes 12-16 in 6-under-par, going birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie-birdie. Seeking his first-career PGA Tour win, Kaye posted a course-record-tying 10-under-par 62 to finish the 90-hole event at 26-under.
 
With Kaye in the clubhouse, Andrade and Mickelson emerged as the prime pursers. Andrade birdied the 10th, 11th and 13th holes to move to 27-under, one shot clear of Kaye.
 
Mickelson also made it to 27-under, courtesy of a birdie at the par-5 16th. However, the lefty pulled his tee shot on the par-3 17th into the right-hand bunker. Mickelson managed to successfully get up from the sand, but couldn't get down from three feet.
 
Mickelson's second bogey of the day - his first coming at the par-5 9th - dropped the three-time 2000 winner to 26-under, one shot back of Andrade.
 
Just moments after Mickelson's bogey at the 17th, Andrade extended his lead to two with a birdie at the 16th. Playing the par-5, Andrade stuck an L-wedge over water to within six feet of the hole. The sharp shot resulted in Andrade's fourth birdie in his last seven holes, though; the approach wasn't exactly what Andrade had in mind.
 
'I was trying to put the ball behind the pin, but I caught it a bit chunky,' Andrade said. 'I got lucky. Sometimes you need a little luck.'
 
Mickelson once again climbed to within one shot of Andrade by birdying the home hole. In preparation for next week's Presidents Cup, Mickelson fired an eight-birdie, two-bogey round of 66 to finish the five-round event at 27-under-par.
 
Mickelson was down - and done - but not out. Andrade still had to play the 212-yard par-3 17th, which ranked as the toughest hole in the final round.
 
With adrenaline pumping fervently, Andrade pulled a 6-iron and caught the right side of the green; from there, his ball fed nicely to within six feet of the hole. Andrade converted the birdie, his fifth on the back nine, and strolled to the 18th tee with a two-shot cushion.
 
Using his trusty 3-wood, Andrade could hit his tee shot anywhere but left and be safe.
 
He hit it left.
 
His ball took a couple of bounces and finished in the rocks. Andrade was forced to take a drop; and he found himself laying three, still 199 yards from the hole.
 
'I over-hooked (my tee shot) a little bit,' Andrade said following his round. 'I seem to be too dramatic at times.'
 
Andrade's third shot safely found the green, 35 feet from the flag. Needing to two-putt, Andrade rolled his first stroke to with four feet of the hole, and then calmly sank the clinching putt.
 
'This was huge for me,' Andrade said of his fourth-career PGA Tour triumph. 'It's been a tough go the last few years. I couldn't see the light (at the end of the tunnel.) I just knew sometime that the light was going to open up.'
 
Andrade collected a first-place check of $765,000 and vaulted from 159th on the money list, and in danger of losing his card, to 43rd in earnings, and in position to make the season-ending Tour Championship.
 
Three years ago, Andrade missed a 15-foot putt on the 90th hole of the Invensys Classic and failed to make the Tour Championship by a mere $5. Vegas paid the 36-year-old back this week, and in a big way.
 
Andrade wasn't the only player to make great financial strides on Sunday. Kaye collected $246,500 for his tie for third with Stewart Cink, and moved from 46th to 36th on the money list.
 
Scott McCarron and Shaun Micheel each tied for 5th this week and moved to 94th and 98th, respectively, in earnings. McCarron entered the week 123rd on the money list, while Micheel stood in 130th position.
 
The top 125 on the money list by season's end collect their 2001 PGA Tour cards. The top 30 prior to the $5-million Tour Championship earn a trip to the season's final event.
 
Tom Byrum began the Invensys Classic 125th on the money list, and now stands in 103rd place after a tie for 9th. Byrum's 2001 playing privileges might be safe, but it was still a disappointing finish for the 40-year-old.
 
Seeking his first win since the 1989 Kemper Open, Byrum held at least a share of the lead after the second, third and fourth rounds in Las Vegas. However, despite an eagle 3 at the third, Byrum carded a final-round even-par 72.
 
There are two full-field events remaining on the 2000 PGA Tour schedule - the Tampa Bay Classic and the National Car Rental Golf Classic at Walt Disney World. Next week's Tampa Classic will be rivaled by the Presidents Cup in Gainsville, Va.