American Patrick Tallent completed the perfect double with a gritty final round of 75 in the Seniors Amateur Championship at Royal County Down today.
Winner of the US Senior Amateur Championship in California last September, he came from one shot behind with two to play to finally end a run of close finishes and land his first Seniors Amateur Championship crown.
The 61-year-old finished on five-over-par 218, just one shot ahead of fellow Virginian, Matthew Sughrue, who shot a 74 on Friday for 219. Another American, Chip Lutz, the champion in 2011 and 2012, was third on 225 after a fine closing 72.
Sughrue looked set to lift the trophy when he holed a 15-foot birdie putt to move one ahead at the 16th with a clenched first celebration signifying the significance of the moment.
But he nervously missed a short par putt at the 17th and the dangerous par-five 18th proved costly. After a perfect drive, he pulled his second into rough and took four more shots to hole out. Tallent made two great closing pars to claim the title.
The Northern Ireland trip was Tallent's sixth attempt at the Seniors Amateur and he has never finished outside the top ten. Fifth on his debut, he was then fourth, sixth, seventh and eighth. Finally, he clinched the number one spot.
Two years ago at Royal Aberdeen, he set out in the final group only to be thwarted by an end of round downpour.
In the final group again on a breezy, testing day, he led by two shots going into the final 18 holes, but the advantage was wiped out and he found himself one behind Sughrue by the time he had three-putted to drop shots at the first three holes.
But the pair were level again when Sughrue, a newcomer to Seniors golf but already a winner against the professionals at the Maryland Senior Open, took three from the edge at the short fourth.
By the turn, it was virtually a head-to-head battle between two good friends. Sughrue snatched the lead with a par at the 11th but he again slipped up with a bogey at the par-three 14th.
So it all came down to the final three holes. Surghue, from Arlington, Virginia and a member of Bethesda Country Club, made the first move with his great putt at the 16th, but it was Tallent, from Vienna, Virginia and a member of Congressional Country Club, who steadied the nerves and triumphed in the end.
"It's unbelievable to have won both the US and British titles. I've been so close in the past and I thought my chance to win here was done," said Tallent.
He continued, "I was very nervous and had a really bad start. But, coming down the stretch, I said to Matt it really was a match play event between the two of us and it feels so good to have the trophy."
Brady Exber, last year's winner from Las Vegas, kept his best for last, but a closing 76 was only good enough for a tie for 37th, 17 shots behind the winner.
Tallent, whose second round 68 was the only sub-par score of the three days, is the sixth successive American winner of the prestigious title and he confirmed he will be back to defend at Formby next year.