Steve Jones was careful to keep things in perspective after his front-running triumph in the Tournament of Champions.

"I'm not thinking I'm some kind of hero," the rangy, 6-foot-4 Jones said Sunday. "I don't have the talent or the technique or the swing of a lot the guys out here. But sometimes I can persevere out of the bad times."Of course you want to win. But you don't win very often out here, so you have to take it with a grain of salt.

Jones, 30, who qualified for this exclusive, winners-only tournament with his 1988 triumph in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, won the opener of the 1989 season by three strokes, closing with a 69 for a 279 total, nine under par at the La Costa Country Club.

"To win out here, it has to be your day. This was my day," said Jones, who collected $135,000 from a purse of $750,000.

It also provided a quick hit on two of his targets for the year and gave him a running start toward another major goal.

Jones had a two-shot lead when the final round started and was never headed. He was in danger, however, after bogeys on the 15th and 16th holes cut the lead to one shot.

He wrapped it up, however, with a 25-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole.

"That pretty much turned out the lights," said Jay Haas, who tied for second with South African David Frost at 282. Each had a closing 68, with Haas chipping in for birdies on both the 17th and 18th.

Australian Greg Norman, with a 68, was at 283 and Chip Beck followed at 284 after a 71.

In a separate, simultaneous competition for Seniors, Miller Barber scored a 1-shot victory over Dale Douglass by chipping in from 50 feet for a birdie on the final hole.