The waiting is over for Curtis Strange.

On Monday, he settled two old scores by winning his first major golf championship, the U.S. Open.Now, he can put to rest the whispers that said he wins money but not titles. And he can properly honor the memory of his father, who died when he was 14.

"This is for my dad," Strange said. "That's all I can say. I waited a long time to do this.

"I screwed up the 1985 Masters, and I was as disappointed as anyone. We don't have to bring that up, though. We're supposed to be having fun here. But I have been waiting a long time."

The 33-year-old Strange shot an even-par 71 over the 7,010-yard course at The Country Club, beating Nick Faldo of Britain by four strokes in an 18-hole playoff. The end came when Faldo had two bogeys on the four long, par-4 holes that start the back nine.

Although Strange managed to find only seven fairways while Faldo hit 12, Strange used just 26 putts, including a 29-footer for birdie on No. 13 while Faldo was bogeying the hole for a two-stroke swing.

"That was the turning point right there," Strange said.

Strange was the PGA Tour's leading money winner in two of the past three years, setting records both times. He had won two Tour events already this season, and Hale Irwin called him the greatest player in the game today.

Many other golfers agreed, but Jack Nicklaus, winner of 20 major tournaments himself, said Strange would have to prove it in one of the Grand Slam events.

Strange almost did that in 1985, leading the Masters going into the final nine holes. But he hit into the water on both par-5s for bogeys, and Bernhard Langer won. That may have been the low point of Strange's career.

This certainly was the highest.

"You wait for a moment like this in your life, to be able to thank the people who helped you through your career," Strange said, tears glistening in his eyes and his chin quivering with emotion.

Strange's father was a golf professional and owned the White Sands Country Club in Virginia Beach, Va. He had Curtis golfing when he was 7.