Originally created 02/23/98

Nelson gets first win as Senior



SARASOTA, Fla. -- Larry Nelson's long wait for his first Senior PGA Tour title ended in style Sunday with a four-stroke victory in the American Express Invitational.

Nelson, who was expected to become an immediate force on the Senior Tour after turning 50 in September, arrived at the American Express with six Top 10 finishes in eight tournament appearances, but winless.

That changed with a final-round 2-under-par 70 around wind-ravaged Tournament Players Club at Prestancia that gave Nelson a 54-hole total of 13-under 203.

As 25 mph winds that gusted to 35 tormented the field, Nelson finished four shots in front of runnerup Dave Stockton, who closed with an even-par 72.

George Archer (70) and Vicente Fernandez (73) finished five shots back at 8-under.

Although Nelson won 10 PGA Tour titles, including three major championships, the $180,000 winner's check is the largest of his professional career.

"That was some kind of day," Nelson said. "I pretty much enjoyed the whole day. I hit it in trouble a couple of times, but really didn't hit any bad shots until I saw I had a five shot lead and kind of relaxed a little bit and made a bogey.

"But I played solid and kept the ball in play. That's what you needed to do today."

Although the wind did not seem to bother Nelson, who finished the day with two birdies and one bogey, it was a factor. Fifty golfers shot over par, four in the 80s.

Raymond Floyd made 11 on the par-5 15th when he put three balls in a hazard and Jack Nicklaus made 8 on the same hole.

Tommy Aaron took an 8 on the par-3 16th. J.C. Snead was assessed a two-shot penalty after he replaced his ball on the fourth green when wind moved it some five feet away from the hole.