Germany’s Bernhard Langer fired a closing round of 72 at Carnoustie to hold off US Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin and become the first continental European winner of the Senior Open Championship presented by MasterCard.

Langer began the final round three clear of Pavin and, playing together, the battle for the title soon became a two-horse race between the German and the American.

The gap was reduced to two when Pavin made a superb birdie at the difficult 2nd but Langer responded to move four clear when Pavin made a bogey at the 7th. The seesaw battle continued as Langer dropped shots on the 8th and 9th and Pavin closed to within one when he birdied the 11th.

Langer increased his advantage to two once more when Pavin dropped a shot at the 15th, and he remained two ahead when the pair stood on the 18th tee. The German played the hole conservatively, laying up with his second shot to ensure he made no worse than five. Pavin was unable to find the birdie that might have forced a playoff and Langer was left to tap in for his bogey and a one-stroke victory.

It was Langer’s first Major title since picking up his second Green Jacket at Augusta in 1993.

“This ranks very high,” said Langer. “Obviously it was pretty close to my two US Masters championships and some of The Ryder Cup stuff I won – it’s a thrill to finally hold this trophy.”

Pavin was obviously disappointed to come up just shy. “It’s tough when you almost win,” he said. “I played well, and Bernhard didn’t play his best golf today I would say, but he did what he needed to do to win, and that’s what it’s about. I just came up one shot short, that’s all.”

Australia’s Peter Senior played an excellent final round of 68 to finish the week one-under-par in a tie for third with Jay Don Blake, Fred Funk and Russ Cochran, four shots back of Langer.