The R&A - Working for Golf

Park defies the elements to hold clubhouse lead in the Seniors Amateur Championship

  • Doug Park holds the clubhouse lead in the Seniors Amateur Championship
  • Rain-affected first round to be completed tomorrow
  • Former champions struggle in the rain at Sunningdale

Torrential rain forced an early halt to the first round of the Seniors Amateur Championship, but Sussex-based Doug Park shrugged off the horrendous conditions to match the tough par of 70 at Sunningdale.

With rain lashing the course, Park, out in the second group, was the only player to come close to par and he holds a three shot clubhouse lead over home member Rupert Kellock.

Rain delays

But only 15 groups managed to complete and nine groups hadn’t started when severe flooding forced officials to stop play. After another two hours, and with the rain still cascading from the sky, the day came to a premature end.

The first round will now be completed on Thursday - play starting at 7am - and the hope is to get the second round underway from 10.15am.

Park makes his mark

At 55, Park, from Cooden Beach, is a newcomer to the senior ranks. Originally from Largs in Scotland, he was taught by Bob Torrance - father of Sam - in his early years. 

“Sam was a bit older, and he was the person everyone looked up to,” he recollected. “I played a lot of boys’ golf in Scotland and did think of turning professional, but was never quite good enough.

“I did work as an assistant in a professional shop, but I hated it. You never got the chance to play much golf.”

Learning curve

Park moved south over 30 years ago, and still enjoys his career with Sussex Police. But he is now equally enthusiastic about his new life as a senior golfer.

“I’s been a big learning curve,” he admitted. “I didn’t realise it would be quite so competitive. There are a lot of really good players out here.

“But what you have to do is really grind out a score and that’s what I did today. My putter was hot.”

Park started with a chip and putt birdie at the par five first, made another form six feet at the 11th and completed the hat-trick from ten feet at the long 14th. He dropped shots at the 2nd, 9th and 16th holes. 

Past champions find it tough

Chip Lutz, the defending champion, was in the last group to tee off before the suspension. A winner at Formby 12 months ago, the American is seeking his fourth win in the Championship.

Other recent winners struggled. The 2013 Champion, George Zahringer, was six over after nine holes, 2014 winner Brady Exber was five over after nine and Patrick Tallent, the winner two years ago, posted an 81.

But the two-time winner Paul Simson made a steady start and was level par through the first three holes.

Americans have won the title for seven years in a row, but it is Park who heads the challenge after a rough opening day.

Greenkeepers shine

And if it hadn’t been for the stalwart efforts of the Sunningdale green keeping staff then it would have been an even earlier finish.

Every green had a couple of squeegee operators, and they stuck manfully to the task. But, in the end, the rain eventually came out on top.

Follow scoring from the Seniors Amateur Championship here.