Bernhard Langer held off the challenge of Corey Pavin to become the first continental European win The Senior Open Championship presented by MasterCard at Carnoustie.
The German kept his cool to compile a closing round of 72 for a five under par total, one better than the US Ryder Cup Captain, who finished his first Senior Major with a round of 70.
Langer has enjoyed a glittering career since turning 50 and joining the Champions Tour almost three years ago, where he has won consecutive Money Lists and finished in the top ten in seven of his 12 Senior Majors, but incredibly this was his first Major since winning the second of his Green Jackets at Augusta National 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.
"Corey played very well all day, he's a beautiful ball striker and bends the ball both directions and he has a great short game. I knew he wouldn't go away.
"You still get nervous, and especially a Championship that means something to you. As you know, I've always wanted to win The Open Championship and this is the next best thing. I probably will not win The Open Championship, but I'm very pleased to win The Senior Open Championship on a great golf course like this.
"Carnoustie is a wonderful, tough links course, maybe the toughest I've ever played. The set-up was very good and I want to congratulate the people who set up the golf course from the European PGA, and also I want to thank MasterCard for their title sponsorship and support of this tournament."
Langer started the day three clear of his playing partner and by the time they teed off it was quickly becoming apparent that the rest of the field were going to be unable to challenge the final pair.
Pavin trimmed the gap to two with a birdie at the 459 yard second before Langer responded at the fifth.
And the former Ryder Cup Captain's lead was up to four strokes when Pavin dropped a shot at the seventh, only for Langer to experience a wobble and bogey the eighth and ninth.
Pavin was within one when he birdied the 11th, before both players tapped in for birdie at the par five 14th.
The turning point came at the 471 yard 15th - Pavin appeared to hold all the aces when he found the fairway with his drive and Langer hit his tee shot into thick rough.
But the former US Open Championship winner pulled his second into a greenside bunker and bogeyed while Langer chipped his third to six feet and saved par.
Pavin almost chipped in at the 17th for birdie, but needed a two shot swing at the last.
Langer drove right but his ball stopped short of the water, although he could only fire his second to the fairway 130 yards short of the green.
Pavin found the fairway off the tee, but left his approach just short of the green and when Langer pitched his third to 12 feet, Pavin needed to hole his lengthy birdie putt from off the green to stand any realistic chance of a play-off but it came up five feet short.
"It's tough when you almost win," he admitted. "It's almost harder when you just finish second and not win - it's disappointing.
"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."
Australian Peter Senior carded a final round 68 to finish in a tie for third on one under, alongside American trio Fred Funk, Jay Don Blake and Russ Cochran.