CURTIS Luck sits in yet another winning press conference.

This time, it’s at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, Korea. He’s just overcome a seven-shot deficit to clinch the Asia Pacific Amateur Championship from good friend and fellow Australian Brett Coletta by one.

The moment is bittersweet.

The 20-year-old has claimed the US Amateur Championship and Asia Pacific in the space of a few months. The winner of each normally receives an invitation to The Masters, but in this rare case that ticket to Augusta was not passed on to the Coletta as the runner-up, despite Luck being exempt already.

Questions from the media are tinged with awkwardness that another Aussie, Cameron Davis, and Coletta stumbled while their compatriot Luck stormed through.

Yet one question manages to lighten the air. It relates to the Perth native’s appearance – namely his long hair tied in a ponytail and a robust beard he is rather proud of.

“You have a lovely head of hair, mate. Do you shampoo that often?”

“Yes,” Luck laughs. “Very often.”

Curtis Luck

Dress For Success

The moral of the story? Appearances aren’t everything, though the man himself puts substantial effort into grooming. His twitter profile reads, “Proud #fearthebeard and #fearthemane ambassador.”

Nevertheless, his exterior may imply he’s a laidback surfer from the coastal Perth suburb of Cottesloe. But on that five-inch course between the ears, Luck is a tremendous competitor who relishes the intensity of Sunday golf rounds.

Take the US Amateur final against American Brad Dalke at the famed Oakland Hills Country Club in August. All square at the halfway point of the 36-hole match, Dalke birdied the 19th to go 1 up. But on the next hole Luck crushes a drive, flushes his next shot to the par-5 second (his 20th) and makes the seven-metre eagle putt. He then embarks on the longest run of consecutive holes won (eight) since the current match play format was adopted in 1973. The end result was 6&4 in Luck’s favour.

He travelled to Mexico the next month and contributed to Australia’s whopping 38-under par team victory at the World Amateur Teams Championship. Davis took out individual honours and Luck contributed rounds of 69-71-63-68 for a 15-under total.

The amateur world No.2 then headed to Korea and found himself seven back of 54-hole leader Coletta beginning the final round of the Asia Pacific Amateur. Luck birdied the second, 11th, 12th and 15th and was playing the par-5 18th when Coletta chipped in for birdie to draw level on 17. Luck, playing in the penultimate group in front, put his second into a bunker but hit out to 15 feet and drained a “nerve-wracking” putt.

Luck remains modest when talking about an emphatic bogey-free 67 on a windy day when Coletta carded a 75 and Davis a 77.

“I guess you could say having the ticket to Augusta already was probably a bit of a relief for me,” recalls Luck.

But that’s not to say he didn’t want a friend at Augusta next year. “Unfortunately, that’s the sport we’re in,” says Luck. “Someone said, ‘Don’t you want a mate to go to Augusta with?’ And I thought it wouldn’t be that bad to have a fellow Aussie amateur there with me.”

Curtis Luck
Luck in full swing en route to winning the 2016 US Amateur. Image: USGA.

A Good Year

In a breakout year, Luck has earned starts at the 2017 Masters Tournament, US Open and the 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale for winning the US Amateur.

But just because he didn’t take the foot off the throttle in Korea – thus denying his Aussie mates a trip to Augusta – doesn’t mean he didn’t feel a deep sense of regret.

“I did go through exactly what Brett’s going through at the moment,” Luck says, referring to the 2015 Western Australia Open when he dropped four shots in his final five holes to hand victory to 39-year-old Daniel Fox.

“It was tough after a pretty heartbreaking loss and it took me a few months to get over. Fortunately you learn a lot more from your mistakes than you do from (winning), so I can say pretty confidently that Brett (Coletta) is going to come back bigger and better over the next year, and I hope he does.”

As Luck would have it, Coletta did bounce back –  two weeks later. He won the Queensland Open in October, becoming the first amateur to achieve that feat since a guy called Stuart Appleby in 1991.

“Brett’s a really close friend of mine, so I obviously understand about the opportunity of what he missed out on, so I will say that I feel a little guilty and a little bad.

“But I’m so competitive I couldn’t give up the chance to win an event like this.”

Curtis Luck
Luck stares down a shot at the World Amateur Teams Championship in Mexico in September.

There’s No Place Like Home

Luck’s success hasn’t just been overseas. In May, redemption came in his home state when he atoned for last year’s WA Open collapse by claiming the 2016 event by two.

But his highlight is still claiming America’s most prestigious amateur tournament. Luck became just the third Aussie after Nick Flanagan (2003) and Walter Travis (1900, 1901 and 1903) to win the US Amateur.

“I’ve had an amazing year,” says Luck.

“These past few months have given me a lot of confidence and a good understanding of where I’m at. I have performed pretty well this year in big events. The US Amateur … it’s the pinnacle and means everything.

“The US Amateur is the championship I’ve looked up to and thought, that’s the one thing I want to have my name on. There aren’t a lot of Aussie names on the trophy, and I’m absolutely blessed to be one of them.”

Luck Of The Draw

Luck’s 2016 seems to get better and better. PGA of Australia officials have confirmed Luck will be paired with world No.6 Adam Scott for the opening two rounds of the PGA Championship at RACV Royal Pines.

The star matchup on the Gold Coast will take place just two weeks after Luck tees it up at the 2016 Australian Open at Royal Sydney, alongside Scott and world No.4 Jordan Spieth.

Looking ahead to the remaining months of his amateur career, Luck has one goal left.

“The big thing to conquer is the world No.1 on the amateur rankings. It’s something I’ve always wanted to achieve and to do that before I turn professional would mean a lot.

“Hopefully I can achieve that.”

Curtis Luck

Honour Roll

2016 Major Achievements
  • US Amateur Champion
  • Asia-Pacific Amateur Champion
  • Member of Australia’s Eisenhower Trophy-Winning Team
  • WA Open Champion
  • T31st Victorian Open (PGA Tour of Australasia)
2015 Major Achievements
  • T28 Uniqlo Australian Masters
  • WA Amateur Medallist
2014 Major Achievements
  • WA Amateur Champion
  • WA Amateur Medallist
  • Victorian Junior Masters Champion
  • Australian Amateur Finalist
  • NSW Strokeplay Champion
  • US Junior Semi-Finalist
  • Ross Herbert Team’s Trophy Australian Amateur Strokeplay
2013 Major Achievements
  • Royal Perth Junior Open Champion
2012 Major Achievements
  • WA Junior Amateur Champion
  • Srixon Junior Champion
  • 54-Hole Junior Champion
2011 Major Achievements
  • WA Junior Amateur Champion
  • Srixon Junior Champion
  • Junior Tournament of Champions Winner