PARAMUS, N.J. (AP) -- Tom Watson's first major on the senior tour turned out to be the one he couldn't win on the regular tour -- the PGA Championship.
Watson shot a 5-under-par 67 and captured the $2 million Senior PGA Championship by a stroke after runner-up Jim Thorpe missed a 6-foot birdie putt on the final hole Sunday.
"You don't know how grateful I am that the PGA now has a name Watson on it after all these years," Watson said after winning the $360,000 first-place prize.
While the money was great, Watson seemed to have almost as much fun looking at the Alfred S. Bourne Trophy, especially the names on it.
Snead, Palmer, Nicklaus, Palmer, Sarazen, Trevino, Irwin.
It was a Who's Who in golf, and now there's a new name -- Tom Watson.
"It's one heck of a trophy," Watson said after finishing with a 14-under 274 total. "And I'm glad to have my name go on it."
Watson, 51, came close to getting his name on the PGA's Wanamaker Trophy in 1978 at Oakmont in Pennsylvania. He had a big final-round lead , but let it slip away, losing to John Mahaffey in a playoff.
"This makes up for it a little bit," said Watson, who won eight majors on the regular tour, five British Opens, two Masters and one U.S. Open. "The Wanamaker Trophy, I had it in my sights a couple of times. Not as many as the other major championships, but I let it get away."
Watson will get another shot at the Wanamaker. His ninth-place finish in the PGA Championship last year gave him an exemption for this year's event at the Atlanta Athletic Club.
Thorpe's putter prevented him from denying Watson his PGA title. Not only did he pull his putt on No. 18 at the Ridgewood Country Club, he also missed four other putts under 10 feet.
The one at the last hole admittedly was his worst putt of the tournament.
"I could probably walk up there now and make that putt half a dozen times in a row, because I don't need it now," said Thorpe, who either led or had a share of the lead after every round but the last.
Bob Gilder, who shared the lead with Watson and Thorpe entering the final round, was third. He parred his last 12 holes, wound up with a 70 and finished three strokes out of the lead. Allen Doyle was another stroke back.
Doyle, who won this event two years ago, moved into a tie for the lead at 10 under with a long birdie putt at No. 4. However, his putter didn't come through again until the next-to-last hole.
Watson won with a birdie barrage over the final two days. He moved into a share for the lead with birdies on his final five holes Saturday and grabbed the lead for good with birdies at Nos. 6, 7 and 8 on Sunday.
Watson birdied 12 of his final 22 holes. His 18-footer at the par-5, 547-yard 13th hole put him at 14 under and gave him a three-stroke lead over Thorpe and Gilder.
The lead was reduced to one when Thorpe made a short birdie at the next hole and Watson missed a 2-foot par saver.
After both players missed long birdie putts at No. 15, Thorpe claimed a share of the lead for about a minute with an 18-foot birdie on No. 16.
The only problem was Thorpe's putt was on the exact same line as Watson's 12-footer, and Watson followed the line into the hole to regain the lead.
"When you're playing this game, you've got to sometimes make a statement," Watson said. "And the best way to make a statement is to make a putt after somebody else makes a putt."
Thorpe saved par with an excellent 5-footer at the next-to-last hole after hitting his second shot into the woods on the par-5, 559-yard hole.
Hale Irwin and Stewart Ginn of Australia tied for fifth at 7 under. Bruce Fleisher was seventh at 6 under, a shot ahead of 65-year-old Gary Player, who shot a 69, and defending champion Doug Tewell.
It was a great tournament start for golf's Big Three of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Player. Nicklaus finished at 3 under (12th) after a closing 71. Palmer, 71, shot his age in the first round and then missed the cut with a second-round 83.
Notes: Lee Trevino, who won the U.S. Senior Open at Ridgewood in 1990, had a 75 for a 297 total -- 22 strokes worse than his score 11 years ago when he beat Nicklaus by two strokes. ... Next year's Senior PGA will be at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio. ... The win was Watson's third since joining the senior tour and his first this year. ... Thorpe's $216,000 second prize was the biggest paycheck of his career. ... Irwin took over the Senior PGA Tour lead in earnings this year from Larry Nelson, pushing his bankroll to $1,014,502 after collecting $71,000. Nelson got $12,000 for a 27th-place tie. He has made $979,900 this year. The field averaged 74.431 for the week, the highest cumulative scoring average on the senior tour this year.
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