Lancashire’s Bryan Hughes won the Seniors’ Amateur Championship at Sunningdale today to become the first Englishman since Roy Smethurst in 2003 to claim the title.
Hughes ended a sequence of seven consecutive wins by Americans in the championship with his three-under 67 in the final round and a two-shot win over the US’s Doug Hanzel and Gene Elliot and South Africa’s Steven Williams.
Hughes, from Hesketh, commented: “Without doubt, that is the best round of my life. To shoot three under in the last round of a major amateur championship is what you dream about.
“When I stood over the putt at the last, I thought ‘this is why I play golf to have moments like this’. It was a tremendous feeling when it went in. I still can’t believe it.”
The 55-year-old was on the reserve list only one week ago but after receiving a late entry into the championship he completed the final round with a three-under-par 67 to lift the trophy on a four-over-par total of 214.
His round did not start too encouragingly after he dropped a shot at the tricky par four 2nd but a 30ft birdie at the 5th was followed by two further birdies at the 12th and 15th. A birdie putt from six feet for a four at the par-five 18th helped to set a target that no one managed to match.
For most of the final round American Matthew Sughrue, the runner-up on his debut at Royal County Down two years ago, was in control and led the championship right up until the final three holes.
He fell back into a share of top spot after a bogey at the 16th and then had a disastrous triple-bogey seven at the 17th where he found trouble in the rough and then three-putted. He finished with a five-over-par 75 and in a tie for fifth place on seven-over par overall.
American Steve Groom, the overnight leader, had two triple-bogeys in the first six holes. A bunker at the short fourth and heather at the 6th ended his title challenge. He shot a twelve-over-par 85.
Chip Lutz, the defending champion and three-time winner, closed with a three-over-par 73 to finish eight-over-par overall and was tied with the 2014 champion Brady Exber in joint seventh.
It really was a fairy-tale for Hughes, whose wife, Elizabeth, caddied through the championship that was affected by torrential rain on the opening day.
Not only did he get into the championship as third reserve, he posted the lowest score of the final round to claim the title and he will look to defend the trophy at Royal Porthcawl next year.
Hughes also earns an exemption for the 2018 Senior Open Presented by Rolex being staged at the Old Course, St Andrews from 26-29 July.
The 2018 Seniors' Amateur Championship will take place at Royal Porthcawl from 1-3 August.
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Image courtesy The R&A