CONCORD, Mass. — Larry Nelson pulled away on the back nine Sunday to beat Jim Thorpe by four strokes at the FleetBoston Classic for his third Senior PGA Tour victory of the year.
Nelson's 6-under-par 66, bolstered by four late birdies, gave him a 54-hole total of 13-under 203 and the $195,000 first prize.
"I knew somebody would shoot low today," Nelson said. "It was the only way to break out of the pack or we would have had an 11-way playoff.
For a while, it looked like no one would be able to break out of the pack, but I birdied nine to take the lead, then had a two-put birdie on 10. After the birdie on 10, I felt it was mine to win or lose."
Nelson was relieved to avoid a recurrence of the back injury that forced him to withdraw from two tournaments in the last month.
"There was a point when I couldn't tie my own shoes," he said. "I wasn't sure when I would be able to play again, but some good advice from my doctor helped me get back.
"He told me what not to do. I had to stop lifting weights, I can't run and I can't practice other than just before a round."
Nelson also took some advice to help his putting.
"I got a tip from my son Drew and one from Dave Stockton and it seemed to help," Nelson said. "My son noticed on television that I was picking my putter up; Dave had me get my weight back on my left toes. Both seemed to help."
The victory lifted Nelson to third on the senior tour money list behind Bruce Fleisher and Hale Irwin at $1,773,355.
Thorpe closed in on Nelson with a 3-under 33 on the front nine to make the turn at 7 under for the tournament.
A three-foot birdie putt on 10 put Thorpe at 8 under. But he wouldn't get another birdie until the 18th hole, when he tapped for birdie after his eagle putt just lipped out.
That left Thorpe with a 67 for the day and at 9 under for the tournament.
"I figured I might have a chance if I shot 7 or 8 under today," he said. "I started well, but I didn't give myself the opportunities on the back nine. The firmness of the greens made it difficult to get it close.
"I struggled with my driver — I couldn't turn it over like I normally do — but I putted well today. I didn't think I'd be where I am after a 70-70 start."
Fleisher, Chi Chi Rodriguez and Allen Doyle tied for third at 8 under. Irwin and Leonard Thompson were next, another shot back.