HUNTINGDON VALLEY, Pa. (September 3, 2014) — It may not be the most notable victory of Chip Lutz’s career, but it’s been the most difficult one for the 59-year-old international superstar to attain. Lutz, a dominant force in the Association, and world, since turning 55, finally captured his first Senior Amateur Championship title on Wednesday at a demanding Philmont Country Club (par 70, 6,412 yards). The victory completed Lutz’s Golf Association of Philadelphia lifecycle. He is the only player to collect trophies in the Junior Boys’ (1972), Amateur (1977), Middle-Amateur (1998, 2007) and Senior.
“This is a highlight of my career, without question. Winning this event has [encompassed] my career in the Golf Association of Philadelphia. It’s something that’s incredibly special for me. I’ve been hoping this moment would occur for quite a few years,” said Lutz, the four-time reigning Senior Player of the Year. “I’ve known for quite some time [a victory in the Senior] would complete my golf resume in GAP. I’ve tried to stay quiet about it, but I’ve been internalizing it for a long, long time. I was really wondering if I would be able to make this achievement in my golf career.”
The triumph proved as difficult as the quest itself. Lutz emerged from a late, compact leaderboard with a string of pars to finish at 5 over for the 36 holes. His second-round 1-over 71 was the Senior Division’s low score.
Co-first-round leader Mark Dennish of The Ridge at Back Brook; Roc Irey of Lookaway Golf Club and Mike Vassil of the Country Club of Scranton tied for second at 7 over. At one point, five players were either tied or within a stroke of the lead.
How difficult was Philmont on this day? The scoring average for Round 2 was 80.037, 10 strokes above par.
Lutz can thank a tree on No. 16 (par 4, 447 yards) for keeping hope alive. Tied with Dennish for the lead at 5-over, Lutz pushed his tee ball into the hardwoods serving as a course boundary. Ready to hit a provisional, instead Lutz saw his ball careen back into the fairway. The good fortune seemed fleeting when he caught his 6-iron a bit thin from 199 yards and watched it run through the green into the back rough. However, the resilient Lutz responded with a wedge from 30 yards to two feet for a tap-in par.
Now two strokes ahead on No. 17 (par 3, 185 yards) after a Dennish bogey, Lutz knocked a 7-iron up against the left collar, 30-feet from the flag. A stellar lag putt to three feet sent Lutz to the final hole still in charge.
On No. 18 (par 4, 341 yards), he clubbed a drive and 80-yard pitch from the right side to 20 feet behind the hole before two putting for the win.
The victory also gave Lutz his first Senior Silver Cross Award and a fifth Senior Player of the Year. The Senior Silver Cross is awarded to the player with the lowest aggregate score in the Warner Cup (Gross), Chapman (Gross) and Senior Amateur Championship.
“This is incredible,” said Lutz, a Reading, Pa. resident. “It was very difficult. I didn’t play my best golf these last two days. It was quite a challenge to stay focused. It would have been easy to throw this away but I stayed focused and got a few breaks down the line.”
Lutz made the turn at 1-under par on the front side as the leaderboard started to jumble. At the time Dennish, Irey and Ray Thompson of Overbrook, a two-time winner of this event, were all in a tight pack.
Lutz’s next task, the U.S. Senior Amateur Championship. An event he’s been a semifinalist in three of the last four years.
View results for Philadelphia Senior Amateur Golf Championship