Lutz Early Leader At Senior Amateur September 20, 2013 By David Shefter, USGA

Chip Lutz, seen here playing in last year’s Senior Amateur, was the only golfer to better par among the morning wave on Saturday at Wade Hampton Golf Club. (USGA/Fred Vuich)

CASHIERS, N.C. – Chip Lutz has won a pair of British Senior Open Amateurs and has two Canadian Senior Amateur titles, but the USGA Senior Amateur is one championship missing from his impressive résumé.

His fortunes could change this week at Wade Hampton Golf Club, especially after the 58-year-old from Reading, Pa., opened stroke-play qualifying on Saturday morning with a 3-under 69, three strokes better than anyone in the morning wave.

On a day when rain fell steadily in the morning and intensified by early afternoon, Lutz managed four birdies against one bogey on the 6,842-yard, par-72 layout.

Play was suspended due to unplayable course conditions at 2:38 p.m. EDT with all 78 golfers from the morning wave having completed their rounds. All 78 players in the afternoon wave had begun their opening round.

I am pretty pleased, said Lutz, a Senior Amateur semifinalist in 2010 and 2011. It was a tough day. It was really difficult. The wind was picking up and changing directions. We got a different volume of rain as we went. It would come on and then off. We got about seven holes in to get started. It was reasonably clear, just gusty wind. Then it got harder from there on in. Fortunately, I have played in enough rain and wind that I tend to have a good flight pattern for these types of conditions.

Buzz Fly, 58, of Memphis, Tenn., and Jack Hall, 56, of Sea Island, Ga., carded even-par 72s to join Lutz as the only three competitors to post par or better among the morning wave.

At our age, if you haven’t played in [rainy conditions] before, you haven’t played much golf, said Hall, who is competing in his first Senior Amateur after qualifying for the U.S. Senior Open earlier this summer. It was a consistent rain. I still think we probably had the advantage teeing off early today. It’s going to be a little worse for the guys in the afternoon.

Defending champion Paul Simson, 62, of Raleigh, N.C., carded a 1-over 73, along with Rick Cloninger, 56, of Fort Mill, S.C.

The second and final round of stroke-play qualifying is scheduled for Sunday, with the low 64 scorers advancing to match play, which begins on Monday. The 18-hole final is scheduled for Thursday.

David Shefter is a senior staff writer with the USGA. Email him at dshefter@usga.org.