FORMBY, United Kingdom (August 5, 2016) -- Chip Lutz won his third British Senior Amateur Championship in dramatic fashion today when he holed a 25-foot birdie putt at the first hole of a sudden-death play-off at Formby.
In a thrilling finale, Lutz, fellow American Brady Exber and Scotland’s Graham Bell finished the 54 holes tied on a four-over-par total of 220. Lutz had shot 75, Exber 74 and Bell 73.
The play-off was over the 18th and Lutz won the title in style with the long putt. Bell drove into a bunker and took five and Exber left his birdie putt short.
It was heartbreak for Exber, the 2014 champion. He thought he had to birdie the 18th in regulation play to have a chance but in fact he was one ahead and a three-putt bogey - he missed from inside three feet - cost him dear.
For Lutz, it was the perfect end to a memorable day - it was his mother Janet’s 90th birthday so there was double cause for celebration.
The winner at Royal Portrush in 2011 and again at Machynys Peninsula in 2012, the man from Reading in Pennsylvania has had a memorable year.
Last autumn, he won his first US Seniors Amateur Championship, having been a three-time losing semi-finalist. The final at Hidden Creek in New Jersey was the first time that his mother had actually watched him play.
Now he is thrilled to be the holder of both the US and Seniors Amateur titles and he also has two Canadian Senior Championships in his trophy cabinet.
“That was some finish. It’s a great way to celebrate Mum’s birthday. I’ll be calling her straight away,” said a thrilled Lutz after his win.
“My game was a bit wiggly today but I had a good stretch in the middle and the putt at the last was just perfect. I’ll definitely be back to defend next year.”
Lutz is the seventh successive American winner and he will be back to defend the title at Sunningdale from August 9-11 next year.
He started the final round one shot behind Scotland’s John Fraser but moved in front when the man from Edinburgh suffered bunker trouble and ran up a triple-bogey seven at the fourth. From there on, it was nip and tuck with the lead constantly changing hands.
Lutz, who opened with a birdie, made a move with another at the 14th and Exber’s birdies at the 5th and 8th helped move him into contention. American Mark Nickeas also got into the hunt with early birdies but eventually finished fourth, one outside the play-off, after a 75.
Bell, with a solid two bogey, one birdie round, set the clubhouse target and Lutz - who bogeyed the 15th and 16th - and Exber both let shots slip away towards the end.
Exber admitted he was disappointed to miss out, saying “I had told my caddie not to tell me the score and I thought I was two behind playing the 18th and had to birdie to be just one adrift but I was actually one ahead.
“I needed to know the situation and it certainly cost me the title. But it’s ok, I had a great week.”
Bell added, ““It’s been a fantastic experience. I had a good day today and a great few days.”
Patrick Tallent, the defending champion, closed with a 73 and was tied for eighth place on eight-over- par.