FORMBY, England (August 4, 2016) -- Scotland’s John Fraser, in the last match on the course, shot a second successive level par 72 to lead The (British) Seniors Amateur Championship by a shot from two-time former winner, Chip Lutz, at Formby Golf Club.
Lutz birdied the final two holes for a 71 and a one over par total, with the 2014 champion, Brady Exber, and Mark Nickeas, who left Southport when he was 21 to play professional football in California, sharing third place on two over.
Exber shot a best of day 70 while Nickeas, with an exquisite short game, repeated his opening 73.
Fraser, a former head teacher at an Edinburgh secondary school, made a slow start with three bogeys through the first four holes.
“But then I had a purple patch with birdies at seven, eight and eleven,” said the former shinty player who is now Club captain at the Royal Burgess in Edinburgh. “I also got up and down for par at the ninth.”
He dropped a shot at the 12th but a chip and putt birdie at the long 17th saw him sneak into the lead.
Lutz, who is involved in the real estate business in Pennsylvania, won the title in 2011 and 2012 and he is not only chasing an Amateur Championship in Britain, but he is also trying to complete a cross Atlantic double having won his first US Senior Amateur at Hidden Creek Golf Club in New Jersey last year.
He made his move on a testing, blustery day with a seven birdie round. He saved his longest putt for the 18th, holing from 30 feet for a closing three.
“That was key,” said Lutz, whose trophy collection also includes two Canadian Seniors titles. “I had a terrible second shot and ran up a double bogey at the 15th and then dropped another shot at the 16th.
“To birdie the 17th and 18th was a lovely way to finish. But I really played solid all day and was so pleased with my ball striking. The wind made the conditions very tough.”
Lutz had been in three semi-finals at the US Amateur, which has a matchplay format, before finally making his breakthrough.
Nickeas only took up golf at 40 - 20 years ago - after his football career came to an end. He played for Plymouth Argyle and Chester before heading across the Atlantic.
“I played Formby once before with my brother, who still lives over here, but that was almost twenty years ago,” said Nickeas, whose son, Michael, is his caddie. “I’ve qualified for for a few US Senior Championships and I’ve also won the Californian Senior State title.”
Exber, from Las Vegas, was out early when there was drizzly showers to add to the degree of difficulty. But he made a great start with an eagle three at the long third and finished even stronger, with birdies at the final three holes.
A winner at Ganton two years ago, the 60-year-old from Las Vegas missed out last year with a back injury, but he was delighted to be back among the front runners.
“I putted nicely, holing from around 50 feet at the fifth and about 35 feet at the last. I had one bad tee shot at the 13th and then three-putted . That cost me a double-bogey,” said the golfer who was in the hotel industry in Las Vegas.
The joint first round leaders slipped back. Swede Stefan Lindberg had a second round 78 for five over par, while Randy Haag ran up a quintuple bogey nine at the 15th and had to settle for a 79.
Patrick Tallent, the defending champion, added a 75 to his opening 76 and was inside the top 20 on seven over par.
The top 60 and ties qualified for the final round with cut at 13 over par.