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Kite Returns to Winners Circle

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Champions TourVALENCIA, Calif. -- Tom Kite carded a 2-under 70 in chilly conditions Sunday to cruise to a five-shot win at the AT&T Classic. Kite closed the tournament at 12-under-par 204.
 
'This has been way too long a drought,' said Kite, whose last win was at the 2004 3M Championship. 'I played terrible last year. I've worked hard on my game and felt very much in control of my swing this week.'
 
Tom Kite
Tom Kite's victory was his first since the 2004 season.
Twenty-one of the 78 players in the field managed to shoot rounds of par or better. With the final threesome playing the 13th hole, rain and sleet started to fall on the course as temperatures hovered in the 30s. Just to show how cold it was, a little over five miles from the course, highways were closed from heavy snow.
 
Gil Morgan was one of four players to post 4-under 68 in the final round. That helped Morgan take second place at 7-under-par 209.
 
Tom Jenkins also shot 68 to finish in third at minus-5. Morris Hatalsky carded a 68 to share fourth place with Peter Jacobsen (71) at 4-under-par 212.
 
Kite was steady to start his round at Valencia Country Club with five straight pars. Andy Bean, who played alongside Kite, birdied the first to join Kite at 10 under.
 
Bean began to struggle at the fourth, where he faltered to a double-bogey. He also bogeyed the next and bogeyed five straight on the back nine to tumble down the leaderboard.
 
Kite, meanwhile, rolled in a 6-foot birdie putt on the sixth to move four clear of the field.
 
After a par on seven, the 56-year-old converted back-to-back birdies from the eighth to extend his lead to six strokes.
 
Kite, who was not being challenged, parred his next seven holes to remain well ahead of the field. He did trip to a bogey on No. 17, his first bogey after 29 straight holes without one, but parred the last for his eighth Champions Tour win. His five-shot winning margin was the largest in event history.
 
'I'm very excited about the opportunity to build on this win,' said Kite, who collected $240,000 for the win. 'This was a strong field this week.'
 
Morgan birdied three of his first four holes to jump to 6 under. He dropped a stroke on the fifth, but got that back with a birdie on No. 9.
 
The 59-year-old gave another stroke back to par on the 12th, but atoned for that error with a birdie at the next. Morgan got within five of Kite thanks to an eagle on the par-5 15th. However, he bogeyed the 17th but was able to hold on to second place.
 
'It's always nice to play well at Valencia,' Morgan said. 'This has always been a good site for me. It was a tough day though. It got cooler as the day went along.'
 
Wayne Levi closed with an even-par 72 to end at 3-under-par 213 to finish alone in sixth. Bean's tough back nine dropped him to minus-two after a final-round, 7-over 79. He finished alongside Jerry Pate, Tom Purtzer and Loren Roberts.
 
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