George Zahringer will defend his Seniors Amateur Championship title on familiar ground at Ganton this week.
The 61-year-old from New York triumphed in fine style at Royal Aberdeen last year and will set out to retain the trophy at the North Yorkshire course where he played in the 2003 Walker Cup match, won by Great Britain and Ireland by a single point, and where he enjoyed his best performance in the Amateur Championship, reaching the quarter final in 1991.
A place in the Senior Open Championship at Sunningdale next year is on offer to the winner and Zahringer will be one of several strong contenders looking to extend American dominance of the championship in its 46th staging. Since 2004, the trophy has only twice been held outside of the United States: in 2007 when Ireland’s Arthur Pierse won at Nairn and Nairn Dunbar and in 2009 when Bermuda’s Robert Vallis won at Prestwick.
Chip Lutz will be looking to wrest the title back from Zahringer, having won in 2011 and 2012. The 59-year-old from Pennsylvania is fresh from finishing as the leading amateur in the Senior Open Championship at Royal Porthcawl in a tie for 46th position, two shots ahead of Zahringer who was tied 58th.
Paul Simson, the champion in 2006, 2008 and 2010, will be another American who will expect to contend once again as will his compatriot Patrick Tallent, who was joint leader after the second round last year before his challenge faded and he finished tied for 7th.
England’s Clive Jones will lead the home hopes after his victory in the European Seniors Championship in Puerta de Hierro in Spain in June. Moortown’s Stephen East, Moor Park’s John Ambridge and Ian Brotherston from Dumfries & County will also be confident after finishing tied 4th in Spain.
Johnnie Cole-Hamilton, Executive Director – Championships at The R&A, said, “We are looking forward to a great week of golf at this year’s Seniors Amateur Championship. Ganton is a wonderful venue and will present a real test for the players. George Zahringer played some excellent golf to win in challenging conditions at Royal Aberdeen last year and he will be one of a number of players who are confident of lifting the trophy this week. There is a strong international field with 19 nationalities taking part and it will be fascinating to see who will emerge as the champion.”
The Seniors Amateur Championship takes place at Ganton Golf Club from Wednesday 6 to Friday 8 August 2014. A field of 144 players will play the first two rounds on 6 and 7 August after which the leading 60 players, and ties, will play a further 18 holes on 8 August. The championship is open to players aged 55 years and over before 6 August 2014.
Reports and scores will appear on championships.randa.org throughout the three days of competition.