Simson in pursuit of fourth Seniors Open Amateur Championship
Royal Portrush Golf Club will host the 43rd Seniors Open Amateur Championship this week where defending champion Paul Simson goes in search of a remarkable fourth title.
The 60-year-old American arrives on the Antrim coast having won by five strokes from compatriot Chip Lutz at Walton Heath last year. Simson recorded his third win in five years with rounds of 70, 69, 69, for an eight-under-par 208 winning aggregate.
Simson, Seniors Open Amateur winner in 2006 and 2008, enjoyed a remarkable 2010 season when the North Carolina resident also secured the USGA Senior Amateur Championship and Canadian Senior title – the first time a player has held all three titles at once.
As in previous years there is a strong international field for the 54-hole Championship with Simson and Lutz among the 39 American competitors at Portrush. Six travel from Canada, four from South Africa, a further 14 from across Europe while 18 Irish competitors will look to win the prestigious title on home soil.
“The golf course is in great shape. I think it’s a fantastic time to showcase Royal Portrush with The R&A here this week,” said Gary McNeill, Royal Portrush head professional.
“The timing couldn’t be better for us. We’re very much looking forward to the week; some very strong players in the field especially from the States. Guys like Danny Yates, George ‘Buddy’ Marucci and Vinny (Marvin) Giles, all hardened Walker Cup players and captains. Obviously Garth McGimpsey spearheads the home challenge.”
McGimspey, the 2003 and 2005 Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup captain, will set off in the second group in Wednesday’s opening round at 7.11am alongside American Robert Morris and Jose Luis Sueiras Rodriguez of Spain. Simson has a 9.01am tee time and is in the same group as Neil Hughes (Gog Magog) and Chris Reynolds (Littlestone).
Competitors over the age of 55 are eligible for the Seniors Open with 144 players in the field. After two rounds on the Dunluce Links the top 60 players and ties advance to the final day (Friday 5th) before battling it out for honours.
The Seniors Open Amateur winner also secures places at the 2012 Senior Open Championship at Turnberry in Scotland and the 2012 US Seniors Amateur.
Royal Portrush is no stranger to hosting major championships with the Senior Open held there from 1995 to 1999 before returning again in 2004. Royal Portrush is the perennial home to the Golfing Union of Ireland’s North of Ireland Championship played over both the Dunluce and Valley courses every July.
The full list of competitors can be viewed here