Birmingham, AL (SportsNetwork.com) - Kenny Perry closed with an even-par 72 on Sunday and that helped him win the season's first major of the Champions Tour, the Regions Tradition, by one stroke.
Perry finished at 7-under-par 281. This was his sixth Champions Tour victory and third straight major championship title. He won the Senior Players Championship and U.S. Senior Open last year, but skipped the Senior British Open, which was the fifth and final senior major last year.
"Ecstatic. I battled out there today. I didn't really have it. The golf course wasn't letting anybody do much," Perry said. "I just hung in there."
Mark Calcavecchia was 4-under par through eight holes, but played the final 10 holes in plus-2. The second-round leader shot 2-under 70 to grab second place at minus-6.
Two-time winner Tom Lehman matched the low round of the day with his 5-under 67 at Shoal Creek Club. Lehman shared third place at 5-under 283 with Jay Haas and Olin Browne, who both posted 71s on Sunday.
Tom Watson (67), Rocco Mediate (70) and 2009 runner-up John Cook (72) shared sixth place at minus-4.
Perry led by one to start the day, but he dropped a shot on the first. He bounced back with a birdie on the third, then Perry parred six in a row from the fourth.
That opened the door for Calcavecchia, who poured in three birdies in a 4-hole span from the third to move to 7-under. Calcavecchia moved one clear of Perry with a birdie on the eighth, but he gave that shot right back with a bogey on the ninth.
Perry fell one back when he failed to get up and down for par from over the 10th green.
Calcavecchia stumbled to a bogey on No. 13, then Perry birdied the same hole to move one clear. Perry tripped to a bogey on the 15th and that dropped him into a share of the lead.
Perry atoned for that mistake with a birdie on the par-3 16th.
Calcavecchia, who played two groups ahead of Perry, closed with five pars in a row to get in at minus-6.
"It was a battle, but I was able to swing okay. As far as the golf goes, I played pretty good for the most part, made some putts on the front and had it going," said Calcavecchia, who battled through a rib injury. "I 3-putted nine and 13 for my two bogeys. Missed a 3-footer and a 2-footer and you just can't do that. Couldn't get a birdie putt in on the back."
Perry was one clear after his 20-foot birdie putt on 16, and that's where he ended after making par on the last two holes.
"I was just trying to stay away from the bogeys and I bogeyed the first hole right out of the gate. But then I birdied the third to get it back and just kind of hung in there," Perry explained. "Plowed along, hit lots of fairways, lots of greens, and just stayed patient. I guess patience was the key word today. I knew if I parred the last two holes I was going to win the golf tournament, and I hit a great drive on 18, great 9-iron in there to about 12 feet knowing all I've got to do is 2-putt. That's a neat feeling."
NOTES: Perry, who became the 10th man to win three Champions Tour majors, earned $330,000 for the victory ... Gary Player is the only other golfer in Champions Tour history to win three straight majors ... Perry joined Jack Nicklaus as the only two that have won the Senior Players, the U.S. Senior Open and the Tradition ... The tour heads to Michigan next week for the Senior PGA Championship, where Kohki Idoki won by two strokes last year.