The R&A

For Immediate Publication


5 August 2011, Royal Portrush, Northern Ireland: American Chip Lutz went one better than last year’s runner-up finish to claim the Seniors Open Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush where he reeled-in playing partner Frank Ford III and held off the challenge of Arthur Pierse in a dramatic final round.   

Lutz signed for a second successive 71 for a three round winning aggregate of two-under 214. The 56-year-old’s total was good enough to win by one stroke from Irish international Pierse, who carded a 70 to come up just short. The 2007 champion gave the home crowds plenty to cheer about as he attempted to chase down the leading American pair on a benign afternoon on the Antrim coast.

For Ford it was a day of disappointment as the 59-year-old, who had led over the first two days, relinquished a four shot lead and signed for a final round 77 to eventually finish third on level par.

The American contingent who competed in Portrush this week were all too aware of Lutz’s battling qualities. This time he got his just rewards and claimed the prestigious title.

“It’s just so emotional, I’m overwhelmed to have won,” said Lutz immediately after the presentation. “This is my first national championship and it feels great to have been able to finish it off after being runner-up to Paul (Simson) at Walton Heath last year."

The plus four handicapper, who plays out of LedgeRock Golf Club in Pennsylvania, got off to the best possible start after making an eagle three at the par five second before following up with a birdie at the next to put immediate pressure on Ford, who at the same time opened with three straight bogeys.

“I was just trying to stay patient out there. I had a little bit of a lead to overcome but I started quickly. As I jumped off to a great start, Frank struggled to get going.

“In the end I was delighted to have been able to maintain my composure before enjoying the easiest of short tap-ins on the final green to win,” added Lutz, who carded an eagle and three birdies against four bogeys.

Despite Ford’s early woes he still had a long birdie putt from the front of the green at 18 to force a play-off. He raced it passed and went on to miss the eight-footer back which cost him a share of second. “What can I say it just didn’t happen, but that’s golf; I’ve had a great week,” said Ford.    

For Pierse there was also a case of what might have been. The battling Tipperary golfer holed an outrageous par putt from just off the front of the green at 18 after finding the cross bunkers with his drive. It meant he at least asked the question and Lutz had to make par to win. For Pierse he said the slow start to the w