Lee Wins 2011 USGA Senior Amateur

Joins brother Stanford as USGA champion

Philip Pleat made a furious comeback attempt at the Senior Amateur, winning three consecutive holes to get Louis Lee’s lead from 4 up to 1 up. (Steven Gibbons/USGA) 


By Christina Lance and Michael Trostel, USGA
September 15, 2011

Manakin-Sabot, Va. – Louis Lee, 55, of Heber Springs, Ark., made a 4-foot par-putt on the 18th hole to edge Philip Pleat, 55, of Nashua, N.H., 1 up, in the championship match of the 2011 USGA Senior Amateur, conducted at 6,829-yard, par-72 Kinloch Golf Club in Manakin-Sabot, Va.  

With the victory, Louis Lee joined his brother, Stanford, the 2007 champion, as a winner of the event. Earlier in the championship, the pair had met in what is believed to be the first match between two brothers in USGA history. 

“You could not have scripted it any better,” said Louis Lee, who drove to Virginia all the way from Arkansas with Stanford and their wives. “It was one of the best days of golf we've ever had as brothers.” 

As he had in his semifinal match against William Thomas Doughtie, Lee started quickly against Pleat. He converted a 10-foot birdie putt on the fourth hole to take a 1-up lead and then nearly aced his tee shot for a conceded birdie on the par-3 fifth to extend his advantage to two holes. 

Lee gave back a hole with a three-putt bogey at the par-4 sixth, but ran off victories on three consecutive holes beginning on the ninth to grab a 4-up lead.  

At that point, Lee appeared to have the match well in hand. Sitting just 20 feet away from the hole with Pleat off the green, it seemed that a two-putt would give him a 5-up advantage with just six holes to play. But when Pleat converted his difficult up and down on hole No. 12 and Lee three-putted, the momentum swung to Pleat, at least momentarily. 

“When I finally made the putt there for par, I said, ‘You know what? It’s still not over,’ ” said Pleat, who caddied for his son, James, in the 2011 U.S. Amateur at Erin Hills earlier this year. “I had played [holes] 13 through 15 pretty well during the week. In golf, anything can happen, so you just concentrate on the next shot and go from there.” 

Within a half-hour, the tables had turned dramatically. Pleat birdied the 13th and when Lee hooked his tee shot into the water hazard on the par-3 14th, the Nashua-native’s deficit was only one hole. 

Just when it seemed like the match was getting away from Lee, however, he righted the ship, hitting the last four greens in regulation to put the pressure on his opponent. 

Pleat had 8-foot birdie putts on both 17 and 18 to square the match and send it to extra holes, but neither would fall. When his putt burned the right edge on the closing hole, the stage was set for Lee. 

“I was afraid I was on the fast track to giving it away,” said Lee. “But I kind of reached deep down on [holes] 16, 17 and 18. And that 4-foot putt on the last hole was sweet when it dropped. It was digging for that left lip, and it went in, I let off a deep sigh of relief.” 

Prior to this year’s Senior Amateur, Lee had not played a single competitive event in more than 25 years. Despite his success on the national stage, his travel schedule may not change. 

“I'm going to go back to Heber Springs, Ark., population 6,500, and I'm going to run my little insurance agency and go to the First Baptist Church,” said Lee. “I'm ready to be home for a while. I'm a simple guy, and I live a good life in the heartland of America.  I don't plan to make any changes.” 

Louis and Stanford Lee now join four other sets of brothers who have won USGA championships: Willie Smith (1899 U.S. Open) and Alex Smith (1906, 1910 U.S. Open); Hank Kuehne (1998 Amateur) and Trip Kuehne (2007 Mid-Amateur); Charles Barenaba (1974 Amateur Public Links) and Randy Barenaba (1975 Amateur Public Links); and Eddie Mudd (1976 Amateur Public Links) and Jodie Mudd (1980, 1981 Amateur Public Links). 

Louis Lee also became the second-youngest champion in the history of the Senior Amateur, at 55 years and two months. Interestingly, Stanford Lee is the youngest winner in championship history, having won only five days after his 55th birthday. 

When the two brothers met in the quarterfinals, it was agreed that the loser of the match would caddie for the winner the rest of the championship. Having Stanford on the bag in the final was a big help for Lee. The 59-year-old past champion served as both a source of confidence and calming influence on the course in a high-pressure situation. 

“There’s no one in the world I’d rather be on the golf course with than him,” said Louis Lee.  “We are brothers, but we are best friends and we are each other's biggest fan. Having him on the bag made all the difference.” 

Pleat’s performance continued a strong showing by New Hampshire natives in USGA championships this season. Keene, N.H., resident Chelso Barrett was the runner-up to Jordan Spieth at the 2011 U.S. Junior Amateur at Gold Mountain Golf Club. Pleat played against Barrett’s father, Hugh, in the final of the 1981 New Hampshire Amateur final.  

Pleat hit his tee ball well all day, hitting 13 of 14 fairways, but couldn’t sink as many putts as he had in his quarterfinal and semifinal victories over Paul Simson and Chip Lutz, respectively. During Wednesday’s rounds, Pleat made 13 birdies. On Thursday against Lee, he made just one. 

“Today, I was off, but that’s golf,” said Pleat, who has worked as a financial advisor for Merrill Lynch for more than three decades. “You have to just hang in there and play with what you have that day. I knew it had to be good to have a chance of beating Louis. I just came up a little bit short, but it was a great experience.” 

For the victory, Lee receives a gold medal, the Frederick L. Dold Trophy, a one-year exemption from U.S. Open local qualifying, a two-year exemption into the U.S. Amateur Public Links (if otherwise eligible), a one-year exemption into the U.S. Senior Open, a two-year exemption into the U.S. Amateur, a two-year exemption into the U.S. Mid-Amateur and a 10-year exemption into the USGA Senior Amateur. 

Both players receive full exemptions into the 2012 Senior Amateur, which will be conducted Sept. 29 through Oct. 4 at Mountain Ridge Country Club in West Caldwell, N.J. 


Christina Lance is a coordinator of championship communications for the USGA. Email her at clance@usga.org. Michael Trostel is the curator/historian at the USGA Museum. Email him at mtrostel@usga.org. 




Manakin-Sabot, Va. – Result from Thursday’s championship match at the 2011 USGA Senior Amateur Championship, played at 6,821-yard, par-72 Kinloch Golf Club.  


Louis Lee, Heber Springs, Ark. (150) def. Philip Pleat, Nashua, N.H. (144), 1 up 



Follow the USGA
Become a Facebook Fan of the USGAFollow us on Twitter @USGA
Get The Rules of Golf App For Your iPhone Or Android Today
World Amateur Golf Ranking
WAGR Counting Event
Partner Links
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image

The USGA and Chevron have committed to using the game of golf to encourage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. This commitment has led to the creation of extensive golf-focused STEM teaching tools, and has resulted in charitable contributions to support golf-related programs through Eagles for Education™

At U.S. Open Championships the Chevron STEM ZONE™ is an interactive experience highlighting the science and math behind the game of golf through a variety of hands-on exhibits and experiments.

The partnership has also produced educational materials such as the Science of Golf video series and a nationally-distributed newspaper insert which are provided to teachers as tools to enhance existing curriculum in schools. These lessons teach the science behind the USGA’s equipment testing, handicapping, and agronomy efforts.

For more interactive experiences featuring golf-focused STEM lessons, visit the partnership homepage.

Chevron image

Rolex has been a longtime supporter of the USGA and salutes the sportsmanship and great traditions unique to the game. This support includes the Rules of Golf where Rolex has partnered with the USGA to ensure golfers understand and appreciate the game.

As the official timekeeper of the USGA and its championships, they also provide clocks throughout host sites for spectator convenience.

For more information on Rolex and their celebration of the game, visit the Rolex and Golf homepage.

Rolex image

IBM has partnered with the USGA to bring the same technology, expertise, and innovation it provides to businesses all over the world to the USGA and golf's national championship.

IBM provides the information technology to develop and host the U.S. Open’s official website, www.usopen.com, as well as the mobile apps and scoring systems for the three U.S. Open championships. These real-time technology solutions provide an enhanced experience for fans following the championship onsite and online.

For more information on IBM and the technology that powers the U.S. Open and businesses worldwide, visit http://www.usopen.com/IBM

AmEx image

Lexus is committed to partnering with the USGA to deliver a best-in-class experience for the world’s best golfers by providing a fleet of courtesy luxury vehicles for all USGA Championships.

At each U.S. Open, Women’s Open and Senior Open, Lexus provides spectators with access to unique experiences ranging from the opportunity to have a picture taken with both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open trophies to autograph signings with legendary Lexus Golf Ambassadors in the Lexus Performance Drive Pavilion.

For more information on Lexus, visit http://www.lexus.com/

AmEx image
American Express

Together, American Express and the USGA have been providing world-class service to golf fans since 2006. By creating interactive U.S. Open experiences both onsite and online, American Express enhances the USGA’s effort to make the game more accessible and enjoyable for fans.

For more information on American Express visit www.americanexpress.com/entertainment

AmEx image