FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — U.S. Walker Cup captain Buddy Marucci won the USGA Senior Amateur on Thursday, beating George Zahringer 2-up at Shady Oaks Country Club.
The 56-year-old Marucci, from Villanova, Pa., won for the first time in 51 starts in U.S. Golf Association events.
“It’s great to get a win after all these years,” said Marucci, best known for losing to Tiger Woods in the 1995 U.S. Amateur final. “It means a lot.”
Zahringer was 3-down through 12 holes, but the 55-year-old New Yorker rallied to cut the deficit to one with a par on the par-5 15th.
On the par-3 16th, Marucci hit into the front bunker and Zahringer was safely on, 20 feet from the hole. Marucci blasted out of the bunker to 4 feet, while Zahringer missed his birdie putt. They made pars on the hole and again on the par-4 17th, and Marucci added a par to win the 18th.
“The up and down he made at the 16th was really the shot of the match,” Zahringer said. “If he doesn’t make his par or I make my birdie, then the match is tied and I have all the momentum, but it didn’t happen.”
Marucci was awarded a gold medal along with the Frederick L. Dold Trophy. He also received an invitation to play in the 2009 and 2010 U.S. Senior Opens and an exemption from local qualifying to next year’s U.S. Open.
“Of all my accomplishments in golf, this has to top the list,” Marucci said. “I can’t wait to walk into the USGA Museum and see my name up on the Hall of Champions. It means a lot to finally win one of these after all of my years of trying.”
“I think Buddy’s iron play was better than mine today, as was his putting,” said Zahringer, the 2002 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion. “That may have been the difference.”
Marucci, the captain of the victorious 2007 Walker Cup team in Northern Ireland, will be unable to defend his title next year at The Beverly Club in Chicago. He will instead be at Merion as the returning captain of the 2009 Walker Cup squad.
With the victory, Marucci became the first Walker Cup captain to win a USGA championship since Jay Sigel accomplished the feat in 1985. Sigel won the 1985 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship while he was that year’s Walker Cup captain.