BRIDGEND, Wales (July 27, 2014) -- It's getting to be a regular thing for Chip Lutz to stand at the British Senior Open trophy ceremony, and this year at Royal Porthcawl in Wales he made it three-straight low amateur honors.
In addition to experiencing high level competition among the game's legends, Lutz also earned the chance to get an exemption into next year's championship. That will be four straight times he tees it up in the tournament-proper.
Lutz continued his steady play in the final round, recording a few bogeys and looking poised for another round in the low 70s before getting stung by the 16th, where he made a triple.
George Zahringer -- the defending British Senior Open Amateur champion from New York -- shot a stunning 68 on Saturday to get into a tie with Lutz; that score was beaten by only six of the elite senior golfers in the field. (Tom Pernice matched the Royal Porthcawl course record of 64 on Friday, while Philip Walton of Ireland did the same on Saturday.)
But the stockbroker and 2002 US Mid Am champion failed to capture the same magic on Sunday, finishing with an 80 on a day where he made 8 bogeys and a double before finishing with a birdie. (If only that it was for 79.) Zahringer will cross the pond again to defend his Seniors Open Amateur title at England's Ganton Golf Club in early August.
Fans of AmateurGolf.com -- particularly those in California -- may remember San Franciscan Randy Haag's excellent run of back-to-back low am honors at the British Senior Open in 2010 and 2011. Now with Lutz accomplishing the three-peat, it's two players over five years. Both of them are seasoned amateur veterans with length and solid ball striking abilities.
HOW TO QUALIFY FOR THE BRITISH SENIOR OPEN
Getting in the field itself is no easy accomplishment -- keep in mind that only Lutz is exempt into the championship proper next year; all others (especially from the USA) need to make the trip over to qualify against non-exempt senior pros and amateurs. Most of them play one or more practice rounds and also enjoy the chance to play some of the area's great links courses.
In 2014, 500 players from around the world competed at three Welsh links courses for a total of 30 available spots in the championship proper. And you never know how far it will get you -- in 2004 a relatively unknown American professional named Pete Oakley made it through a similar qualifier and went on to win the Senior Open title in a playoff over Tom Kite and Euoardo Romero.
Next year, the Senior Open will be played at the famed Sunningdale Golf Club outside of London. In 2016, it heads to Scotland's Carnoustie Golf Links. For qualifying information, visit www.randa.org.