Originally created 02/22/98

Nelson in position for senior victory



SARASOTA, Fla. -- Larry Nelson of Marietta, Ga., moved closer to the first Senior PGA Tour win of his career with a 3-under-par 69 Saturday for a two-shot lead entering today's final round of the American Express Invitational.

Nelson's 36-hole total of 12-under-par 132 put him two shots in front of J.C. Snead, who carded a 69. Vicente Fernandez, Jim Colbert, Dave Stockton and Jim Dent were three shots behind. Fernandez carded a 66, Colbert and Stockton had 67s, and Dent a 69.

For Nelson, who turned 50 in September, this was how many in golf expected it to be every week. He joined the seniors tour after a PGA Tour career that featured 10 tournament victories -- including three major championships.

Nelson was expected to immediately threaten the dominance of Hale Irwin and Gil Morgan.

But he has not won in eight seniors tournament appearances. And each week has found himself pushing a little harder.

Until recently.

"I think I have gotten past that," he said after his round at the Tournament Players Club. "I've done a lot of reflecting. I lost my brother two weeks ago to cancer. That was the time to reflect on life in general, I guess. It put a lot of things in perspective for me."

Nelson said having his son, Drew, along to caddie the last two weeks has helped.

"He's been telling me I need to enjoy this a little bit better," Nelson said. "And this is a big part of my life. If I'm not having fun out here on the golf course, I'm not going to have too much fun anywhere."

This week has been easy to enjoy. Nelson's two-round total of 12-under is the three-year-old tournament's 36-hole low. He entered play Sunday as the final-round leader for only the second time as a senior.