Curtis Strange won his third PGA houston-area event the same way he won twice before - in a playoff.

Strange needed an excellent final round Sunday to beat Greg Norman in the $700,000 Independent Insurance Agent Open at The Woodlands, Texas. When the two golfers finished regulation play tied for first, the odds were much in Strange's favor.

Strange sank a 25-foot birdie putt on the third playoff hole, beating Norman.

"I feel like I beat the best player in the world," Strange said after becoming the first three-time winner of the event. Strange and Norman, co-leaders entering the final round, each shot a 67 and completed regulation play tied with a tournament-record 18-under-par 270 to force a playoff for the third straight year.

Strange, 1987's top winner, won his first event of 1988 in familiar fashion. Three times he has won in Houston, each in a playoff.

Tom Kite, who settled for third with a 16-under-par 272 after a final 68, was never more than two strokes off the pace. Jim Carter and Brian Tennyson were fourth at 275.

Norman and Strange started the day at 13-under-par 203 with Kite was one stroke back. The three were tied at 16-under through 13 holes, but Kite bogeyed and never caught the leaders.

Norman and Strange went to 17-under at No. 15 and on the par-4, 383-yard No. 17, Norman sank a six-foot birdie putt that gave him a one-stroke lead.

But Strange's second shot on the par-4, 445-yard 18th sailed over the water in front of the green and rolled just past the cup. He sank a four-foot birdie putt to go 18-under while Norman sank a short par putt to force the playoff.

Norman and Strange returned to the par-3, 177-yard No. 16 to begin the playoff and each had birdie putts stop short of the cup. On the 17th hole, Norman tapped in a short putt for par. Strange's three-foot putt for par rolled around the rim before dropping. Norman two-putted for par on No. 18 while Strange sank the winner.

It was Strange's 13th PGA Tour victory and his first since the 1987 NEC World Series of Golf. He earned a $126,000 first-place prize.

The previous low score for the tournament was 14-under-par 274 set by Strange and Peete in 1986.

At Austin, Texas, Orville Moody, wielding his elongated putter like a broom, swept in the ones he and Bruce Crampton had to have in their six-hole sudden death playoff victory in the Legends of Golf.

Moody's peculiar putter 50 inches long got the job done.

He and Crampton had to make a birdie 4 on the final hole of regulation to get into the playoff with Lou Graham and Tommy Aaron. Moody made it, from about four feet.

After Graham and Aaron missed chances on the second and third playoff holes, Moody made a 15-foot downhill birdie putt on the fourth extra hole that extended the playoff. Moody ended it with the 12-footer for birdie on the sixth playoff hole as he and Crampton made a successful title defense.

Moody and Crampton combined for an 8-under-par 62 over the final 18 holes of regulation at the Onion Creek Club course and tied Aaron and Graham at 254, 26 under par. Aaron and Graham also played the last round in 62, with Aaron's eagle 2 on the 16th hole the critical shot.

At Nashville, Tenn., Patti Rizzo sank a seven-foot birdie putt on the fifth playoff hole Sunday to win the $335,000 Sara Lee LPGA Classic. Rizzo and Sherri Turner played all five holes of the playoff that began with four players. Kim Williams and Tammie Green bogeyed the first playoff hole to drop out.

The four players finished 54 holes of regulation play on the par-72, 6,242-yard Hermitage Golf Course at 207, 9 under par.