Chris Stutts prevailed at The Honors Course
OOLTEWAH, TN (May 27, 2018) - Bobby Jones famously said that he played better in matches when he focused on beating "Old Man Par" rather than focusing too much on his opponent.
Today "Old Man Par" would have been a three-shot winner at the Lupton Invitational at The Honors Course. In fact, Old Man Par would win most Lupton Invitationals, including five of the last six, with only Joseph Deraney beating the figure during his win in 2016.
This week it was Chris Stutts (Kihei, HI) doing his best impersonation, with two rounds of even-par 72 and a final round of 1-over 73 that gave him a two-shot win.
Stutts is a former Arizona State All-American who once competed on the forerunner of the Web.com Tour and who founded the Gateway Tour. He has since regained his amateur status. Now living in Hawaii, the vice president of sales at the Makena Golf and Beach Club.
His form was good coming in, having advanced through U.S. Open Local Qualifying earlier this month. He will next have a chance to punch his ticket to Shinnecock Hills via Sectional Qualifying on June 4.
Stutts was part of a four-way tie for the lead entering the day, and it was likely that whoever shot the lowest out of the four leaders would win the trophy. But all four shot over par on the front nine.
At the turn, David Noll, Jr. (Dalton, GA) was +1 and Stutts was one behind, while the other leaders Michael Pearson (Alpharetta, GA) and Michael Stamberger (Brielle, NJ) both shot 40 and were on their way to rounds of 79 and 80, respectively.
Stutts birdied the 10th and parred 11 to take the lead over Noll, but bogeyed the 13th to allow Noll to tie it up again. But then came the key hole of the tournament, at the short par-3 14th, where a birdie-bogey two-shot swing gave Stutts the lead for good. Noll did get one shot back with a birdie at the par-3 16th, but a bogey on the par-5 17th--his second bogey 6 on the back nine--put him 2 shots behind again and that was the final margin.
Noll ended up with a 75 that put him in a second-place tie with Andy Roberts. Roberts started four shots back and shot 71 to secure his runner-up spot at 3-over 219.
Andrew Lawson (73) was fourth at 4-over 220, with Rob Garland (69) fifth.
Deraney, who has been playing well this spring but shot consecutive rounds of 77, came back with the low round of the day, a 69, to finish in a tie for sixth.
In the Senior Division, Rick Cloninger (Fort Mill, SC) completed a convincing victory with a Stableford total of 112 points, earning 37, 37 and 38 points to finish 5 ahead of three players.
First-round leader Scott Mayne (Harrisburg, PA), the defending champion Chris Hall (Marietta, GA), and Jack Hall (Savannah, GA) all finished with 107 points.
Buzz Fly (Memphis, TN) and Bob Royak (Alpharetta, GA) rounded out the top 5 with 106 points.
In the Super Senior Division, Bill Leonard (Marietta, GA) was a playoff winner over Alan Thielemann (Woodstock, GA), who had led the whole way until midway through the final round when Leonard pushed ahead, only to give up the lead on the final nine before squaring it up again with a birdie on the 17th.
SECOND ROUND RECAP
The Honors Course is once again defending par at the Lupton Invitational, with no players in the red through 36 holes.
Four players are tied at even-par 144. They include the first-round leader Michael Stamberger (Brielle, NJ), who added a 74 to his opening-round 70. Michael Pearson (Alpharetta, GA) had the low round of the tournament so far, a 3-under 69 to get to even, while David Noll, Jr. (Dalton, GA) shot 70. Chris Stutts (Kiehi, HI) shot his second straight 72 to round out the quartet of leaders.
Only one player has broken par for 54 holes in the last five playings of the Lupton (champion Joseph Deraney in 2016 at 4-under 212).
Todd Burgan (Knoxville, TN) and Richard Spangler (Hixson, TN) are tied for fifth, two shots behind.
Rick Cloninger (Fort Mill, SC) leads the Senior Division with 74 Stableford points through two rounds. The defending champion Chris Hall (Marietta, GA) is one point back, while Jack Hall (Savannah, GA) and first-round leader Scott Mayne (Harrisburg, PA) are two points back.
In the Super Senior Division, Alan Thielemann (Woodstock, GA) saw his lead shrink from three points to one. He has 71 points, one ahead of Bill Leonard (Marietta, GA) who has the best round on Saturday with 37 points.
FIRST ROUND RECAP
Michael Stamberger (Brielle, NJ) shot a 2-under 70 to take the lead after the first round of the Lupton Invitational at The Honors Course.
Stamberger, who finished third in this tournament last year, got off to a fast start at the notoriously difficult course that has become a mainstay in the USGA championship rotation and has hosted a number of state and college championships. With birdies on 1, 2, 4 and 6, he stodd four under before a double on the par-4 7th hole blunted his momentum. He played steady golf from there to finish at 2 under.
Three players sit tied for second at even-par 72. Todd Burgan (Knoxville, TN), who has finished 4th the last two years in the Lupton, is in that group, along with Rob Garland (Nashville, TN) and former Arizona State All-American Chris Stutts (Kihei, HI).
Both Stamberger and Stutts come into the Lupton in good form, having advanced to U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying to be held on June 4.
Richard Spangler, fresh off of a win at last week's Signal Mountain Invitational, is alone in fifth at 1-over 73.
Joseph Deraney (Lexington, KY), who won the Carlton Woods Invitational and Timuquana Cup earlier this month, shot a 77 in round one.
In the Senior Division, Scott Mayne (Harrisburg, PA) took the lead with 38 points in the Stableford format. Mitch Hufstetler (Chattanooga, TN), Chris Hall (Marietta, GA), Rick Cloninger (Fort Mill, SC) and Vern Spurlock (Fort Worth, TX) are tied for second with 37 points.
In the Super Senior Division, Alan Thielemann (Woodstock, GA) leads with 37 points, three ahead of Larry McGill (Chattanooga, TN).