ABERDEEN, Scotland (Aug. 9, 2013) -- The final round ended in a downpour but it was all smiles for American George Zahringer as he posted a final round 74 and secured a one-shot victory in the Seniors Open Amateur Championship at Royal Aberdeen.
The 60-year-old from New York had set out one shot behind Northern Ireland’s Garth McGimpsey and American Patrick Tallent but he was one shot ahead with five holes to play and his five-over-par 218 total was good enough to finish one ahead of fellow-American Tom Brandes.
Brandes, from Seattle, had a best of the final round score of 69 – it was the joint best score of the Championship – to slip into second place on six-over-par and McGimpsey settled for third on seven-over after a 77.
Zahringer, the 2002 US Mid-Amateur Champion and 2003 Walker Cup player, couldn’t have been happier. “It’s great to win my first international title and it’s just beginning to sink in,” he said.
“Playing for the US in the Walker Cup and winning the Mid-Amateur were great and another highlight of my career was taking part in eight US Senior Opens (he was low amateur twice). But this is extra special because it is overseas.”
He will definitely be back to defend his title and was thrilled to learn that the 2014 venue is Ganton. The famous Yorkshire course was the scene of his Walker Cup appearance - and he also reached the quarter-finals of the Amateur Championship at the same venue.
“I can’t believe it,” he said. “I didn’t know it was there next year but it will be a great place to go back to again, and as the reigning Champion.”
A Private banker in his professional life, Zahringer revealed afterwards that his final round strategy was to go out and shoot par. He made a shaky start with a bogey at the long 530 yard second – “The only hole where I was really aggressive” – and dropped another shot at the par three 11th before finally picking up a birdie with a chip and putt at the 534 yard 12th.
The storm started when Zahringer was on the 15th green – hailstones and then heavy rain – and, not surprisingly, he dropped a shot at the 16th and another at the 18th.
“But I knew I was two ahead playing the last and I wasn’t going to do anything stupid,” he said. “So I hit a five wood off the tee, a safe four iron second shot and then had a 60-yard pitch.” His par putt from 30 feet just shaved the hole.
Brandes, seven behind overnight, steamrollered through the field with his two under par score. He finished with four threes – three birdies and a par at the 17th.
“It was great fun and a terrific week,” he said. “It was my first time over in Britain and I couldn’t have had a more enjoyable time.”
Playing in the final group, McGimpsey (Pictured Right) and Tallent had the worst of the conditions. McGimpsey dropped four shots in the final six holes, while Tallent’s challenge finally came to grief with a seven at the 15th. He shot 79 and finished joint seventh on nine-over-par.
Chip Lutz, the American aiming to make it three in row, was left to rue the quadruple-bogey eight he took on the 18th in the second round. A fine closing 72 saw him finish tied for fourth on seven-over-par.
“I played really well today but I just missed a few putts,” he summed up. “It was a good way to finish and a good defence. It was just a shame about the one hole yesterday.”
Lindsay Gordon (Turnhouse) was the best of the Scots on 17-over-par after a closing 77, one ahead of John Fraser (78), from Royal Burgess, Kirriemuir Players’ David Downie (75) and Tulliallan’s Robert Stewart (75).
The 2014 Seniors Open Amateur Championship will be played at Ganton from 6-8 August.