Curtis Luck saved his best golf of the week at the 116th U.S. Amateur for Sunday afternoon. The 20-year-old Australian was 1 down after 19 holes of the championship match against Brad Dalke, but found a rhythm, winning the next eight holes to take a commanding 7-up lead en route to a 6-and-4 triumph.
With the victory Luck became the third Australian to win the Havemeyer Trophy, joining Walter Travis (1900, 1901 and 1903) and Nick Flanagan (2003).
“It’s obviously an amazing feeling,” Luck said. “I’m just really grateful.”
After a bogey on the 19th hole, Luck made an eagle on the 20th to square the match. He then carded no worse than par for the next eight holes, making three birdies as he gave Dalke no room to mount a comeback
Dalke during the eight-hole stretch made five bogeys as he struggled both off the tee and with his putter.
“I never really felt comfortable that second round,” Dalke said. “I don’t know if it was the break or what. … I wasn’t hitting it great, wasn’t putting it well. Curtis, I think, went two or three under on that stretch, so that didn’t help. But yeah, and now it seems like it was a blur. It went by pretty quick.”
The turning point of the match proved to be the 25th hole, Oakland Hills’ par-4 seventh. Four down and losing the last five holes, Dalke hit his drive into the rough but slugged his approach up to four feet.
“It was ridiculous how good that shot was,” Luck said.
Luck, meanwhile, hit his approach from the fairway to 22 feet. It appeared Dalke would finally stop the bleeding, but instead Luck rolled in his birdie effort and Dalke missed his short try.
“I was just kind of waiting for that one spark to happen, because 4 down is attainable,” Dalke said. “You can come back from 4 down. But I was just waiting for that spark, and I thought that might be it. Then he made a great putt, and I misread the putt, and all of a sudden I lose the hole and I’m 5 down. I think that was a turning point in the match for sure.”
Dalke won the 28th and 29th holes with pars, but the long-shot comeback attempt ended when the pair halved the next two holes then lost the 32nd.
By winning his semifinal match against Nick Carlson on Saturday, Luck already earned invites to the Masters and U.S. Open. The victory on Sunday gets him a spot into next year’s Open Championship as well.
Luck, who planned to turn pro in a few weeks and go to qualifying school in Japan and in Europe, says all that is on hole
“I’ve got the chance to get in some events that aren’t worth turning pro to miss,” Luck said.