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Irwin's record nabs 1-shot lead

Hale Irwin, seeking his 10th win on the Senior PGA Tour this year, shot a course-record 63 Friday to take a one-shot lead after the opening round of the $1-million Ralphs Senior Classic.

Irwin, 52, has won his past two tournaments and five of the past eight he has entered by shooting 77 under par for the 15 rounds involved to increase his official earnings to $2,131,364.

He has added $415,000 in unofficial money along the way.

"There's never been a time in my life when I have played so well for so long," he said. "Yet as good as it has been, I am looking forward to the end of the season and the coming holidays."

Dave Stockton equaled the previous record, putting him one shot behind Irwin entering today's second round of the 54-hole event. Two-time defending senior player of the year Jim Colbert had 65.

Stockton's 70-foot birdie putt on the fourth hole, his third birdie to that stage, highlighted his bogey-free round.

"I didn't miss a fairway today and I made a million miles worth of putts," he said. "And it's the best I've driven the ball all year."

TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP: Scott Hoch, who would surpass $2-million in winnings for the year if he won the title and still not catch Tiger Woods on the money list, shot 65 to take the midway lead in Houston.

Hoch's 36-hole total of 9-under 133 was one stroke ahead of Jim Furyk and two better than Mark Calcavecchia and David Duval, who is trying to become the first player to win three consecutive starts since 1993.

Hoch would finish with $2,002,988 if he won the $720,000 first prize. But the $64,000 last-place checks mean the worst Woods could end the year with is $2,033,233.

Tom Lehman set the season earnings record last year with $1.7-million.

Woods would break Lehman's record by nearly $1-million if he wins. He made that a possibility when he moved into contention with 68 to get to 5-under 137, four strokes behind Hoch.

The only players who could overtake Woods on the money list are Davis Love III, who was at 136, and Justin Leonard, who was at 139.

REEBOK LETS DALY GO: John Daly's lucrative endorsement deal with Reebok, first negotiated after he won the PGA Championship in 1991, will not be renewed, leaving Daly with Callaway Golf as his only major sponsor.

The decision by Reebok reportedly was strictly a business matter and had nothing to do with his two trips to alcohol rehabilitation.

Daly's deal was up at the end of the year.

"That's correct," John Morgan, senior vice president for Reebok's golf division said. "It was a really difficult decision. John's been a part of the Reebok family for six or seven years, but we want to take the golf division in a different direction."

The Reebok deal brought Daly between $400,000 and $500,000 a year along with shoes, shirts and pants, a source said.

FLORIDA OPEN: Mike Smith of Titusville birdied the last four holes for 9-under 62 and the lead after three rounds at Pompano Beach.

Smith, 47, who played on the PGA Tour for 15 years before being sidelined by a back injury in 1995, took a one-stroke lead into today's final round on the Cypress course at Palm Aire Country Club.

He was at 12-under 201, followed by 1995 Florida Open champion Rodney Butcher of West Palm Beach with 67_202.

Tied at 203 were Chris Couch of North Lauderdale and Jay Townsend of Tequesta, who shot 68 and 70, respectively.

The winner will earn $15,000 from the $82,490 purse.

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