FRENCH LICK, Ind. (AP) — There were no last-second buzzer-beaters in Larry Bird's hometown on a bright, breezy Sunday.
Colin Montgomerie turned in a command performance, shooting a 3-under 69 on the treacherous Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort to win the Senior PGA Championship by four shots.
Montgomerie earned $495,000 for his third senior major championship victory in 10 appearances, including three of the past six. The 51-year-old Scot's 8-under total of 280 made him one of only five players under par, the fewest since three closed the championship in red numbers at Canterbury in Cleveland in 2009.
Mexico's Esteban Toledo shot a 69 to finish second.
Montgomerie was happy but drained.
"It was a difficult position to be in at the start of the day, being three ahead," said Montgomerie, who called Dye's design one of the iconic courses in America. "Nowhere to go but down with every hole out there a potential double bogey. I could never relax. I could never relax at all.
"Very, very tiring mentally. Every shot had to be executed or you could be in trouble. That's a test and a half."
Montgomerie is the first player to successfully defend the Senior PGA title since Hale Irwin won three in succession in 1996-98. Montgomerie is the first to record his first three Champions Tour victories in majors since Jack Nicklaus, who won his first six on the biggest stages.
Montgomerie won the 2013 Senior PGA at Harbor Shores in Michigan, and two months later took the U.S. Senior Open in a playoff over Gene Sauers at Oak Tree in Oklahoma.
It has been an extraordinary life-after-50 turnaround for a player who won 31 European Tour titles, topped that tour's money list a record eight times, represented Europe in the Ryder Cup eight times but went 0 for 71 in major championships.
Six times he was a runner-up in those majors, three times in the U.S. Open and once each in the British Open and PGA Championship.
"He's been in contention in majors pretty much his whole career so he's very familiar with that," said Brian Henninger, who matched Scott Verplank's 71 to give both a share fourth place at 2 under. "He obviously hasn't always executed and performed like he wanted to, but even at his age, he's probably learned through some of his experiences."