|The stylish Mr. Lu in 2006.|
After winning his first Hong Kong title [in 1959] and becoming the club pro, he played an exhibition match at Fanling in 1964 against American superstar Arnold Palmer, who was so impressed he invited him to play in the United States. He appeared in many high-profile tournaments in the US and played several times in the Masters at Augusta National.
But it was in 1971, at the 100th British Open at Royal Birkdale, that he became world famous. With his gentlemanly habit of tipping his pork-pie hat to the fans, he earned the moniker “Mr Lu” as he went toe-to-toe with Lee Trevino, playing some magical golf before the American prevailed by a single shot.
A week later Lu won the French Open at Biarritz, becoming the first Asian ever to capture a European Tour title. He returned to Fanling in 1974 and regained his Hong Kong Open crown after a gap of 15 years.
Lu had no trouble remembering how he captured his first Fanling title.
“It was my first career victory and it was memorable because it was an exciting finish—I was still one stroke behind my friend Bruce Crampton going into the final hole,” he said. “I hit my approach shot to within a few feet of the hole and that brought a big cheer from the crowd. I thought it was going to be a playoff, but then Bruce missed the green and made a bogey. I holed the birdie putt and became champion.”
Lu’s next appearance in Hong Kong came in 1962, when he finished fifth, and it was then that he became the Hong Kong Golf Club’s head pro.
“At that time there wasn’t too much golf in Taiwan, so Hong Kong was a much better place to develop my game,” he explained.
Lu played alongside some fabulous players during his years at the top.
“I always tried to learn from everyone I played against. Arnold Palmer was very strong but, out of all the big players, I admired Peter Thomson’s game the most.”