CASHIERS, N.C. – Chip Lutz’s mastery of Wade Hampton Golf Club continued into Monday’s first round of match play at the 2013 USGA Senior Amateur.
The stroke-play qualifying medalist and owner of two British Senior Open Amateur and two Canadian Senior Amateur titles, Lutz, 58, of Reading, Pa., played the equivalent of 3-under-par golf, with the usual match-play concessions, in defeating Mike Peck, 56, of Irving, Texas, 4 and 3.
The Lutz match was one of 23 to be completed in a marathon Monday at the Senior Amateur. Play was suspended due to darkness at 7:22 p.m. EDT with nine matches still on the course, including defending champion Paul Simson, 62, of Raleigh, N.C., who was 2 up thru 15 holes over Tom Schultz, of Trinidad, Colo.
The first round will resume at 7:50 a.m., with the second round of match play scheduled to start at 8 a.m.
Before match play could commence, half the field had to complete the second and final round of stroke-play qualifying on Monday morning. The match-play cut came at 12-over 156, with 13 golfers playing off for the final six spots.
Peck, a member of the 1979 USA Walker Cup Team, was the final man to earn a spot after a five-hole playoff. But his stay was short-lived against Lutz, who posted a pair of 3-under 69s on the 6,842-yard, par-72 layout in earning the qualifying medal by seven shots over Jack Hall.
“I got off to a really great start,” said Lutz. “I made three birdies on my first four holes. That got the juices flowing.”
Peck birdied the par-5 10th to cut the deficit to 2 down before Lutz made consecutive birdies on Nos. 11 and 12 to push his advantage back to 4 up.
A pair of past Senior Amateur champions, however, weren’t as fortunate.
John Long, of Centreville, Va., beat 2008 Senior Amateur champion Buddy Marucci, of Villanova, Pa., 3 and 1, while Brady Exber, of Las Vegas, needed 19 holes to knock out 2009 champion Vinny Giles, of Richmond, Va.
“Buddy just didn’t have his best day,” said Long. “I lost to him the last time I played him in the second round of the championship that he won at Shady Oaks [in Fort Worth, Texas]. He is a gentlemen and I enjoyed playing with him.”
Marucci, 61, a two-time USA Walker Cup captain (2007 and 2009) and 1995 U.S. Amateur runner-up, was gracious following his defeat.
“I didn’t play particularly great, but John played well,” said Marucci. “He was very steady. The steady guy normally wins. He deserved to win. He played well.”
Exber saw a late 2-up lead evaporate against Giles, at 70 the oldest player to make match play. Giles won holes 16 and 17 to square the match before Exber prevailed on the first extra hole, the par-5 first, with a birdie.
“I was really fortunate to win on 19. I’m really happy to be moving on and I am sorry that Mr. Giles is the one that is going home.”
Tuesday will be another long day for the competitors who advance, with the Round of 32 and Round of 16 scheduled.
“I am going to try and get some sleep tonight,” said Exber, who closed stroke play on Monday with a championship-best 67. “I went 28 holes today.”
Three other first-round matches went 19 holes and a fourth was going to extra holes when darkness halted play.
Doug Hanzel, of Savannah, Ga., the low amateur in the past two U.S. Senior Opens, survived against David Pohlmann, of Louisville, Ky.; No. 2 seed Jack Hall, of Sea Island, Ga., edged by playoff qualifier Thomas Dicinti, of Voorhees, N.J.; and Curt Knorr, of Dunwoody, Ga., birdied the par-5 19th to beat Ken Palladino, of Dunedin, Fla.
Ray Thompson, of Drexel Hill, Pa., also defeated 2011 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Randal Lewis, of Alma, Mich., 2 and 1.
Of the six golfers who advanced out of the playoff, four were defeated and the two others were trailing when play was suspended.