With the Spoils of Victory, Luck Will Wait to Cash His Check
August 21, 2016 | Bloomfield Township, Mich.
By Joey Flyntz, USGA
As evidenced by his No. 7 standing in the World Amateur Golf Ranking™, Curtis Luck was already a well-established amateur coming into this week’s 116th U.S. Amateur Championship at Oakland Hills Country Club. Unless something happened to change his plans, Luck, 20, of Perth, Australia, intended on trying to earn his card on both the Australasian and Japan Tours.
That something happened.
First, Luck outlasted Nick Carlson in 21 holes in Saturday’s semifinal matchup to clinch a spot in next year’s U.S. Open at Erin Hills, as well as a likely Masters invite. Then on Sunday, he defeated Brad Dalke, 6 and 4, in the championship match to add a trip to The Open Championship, conducted by The R&A, to his 2017 itinerary.
However, there is a caveat to those prestigious exemptions: he must remain an amateur. That won’t be an issue.
“I think I'll be staying amateur for at least a year now,” said Luck, the third Australian-born U.S. Amateur champion. “I'm happy with that, and it was something I was always thinking that might happen. Playing these events like the U.S. Amateur and [Asia-Pacific] Amateur, they give you that opportunity to get into some events that aren't worth turning pro to miss. I'm very happy with staying amateur.”
Even as an amateur, Luck has already proven himself at the professional level by winning the 2016 Western Australian Open on the Australasian Tour. Now, he will just wait a bit longer than previously planned to join the professional ranks.
Luck’s victory cements a landmark summer for Western Australia natives in USGA championships. Childhood friend Min Woo Lee won the U.S. Junior Amateur in July at The Honors Course in Ooltewah, Tenn., and Hannah Green two weeks ago reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Women’s Amateur at Rolling Green Golf Club in Springfield, Pa.
“I'm expecting great things from him,” said Luck of Lee. “He's yet again another ridiculously good golfer with a lot of talent. His sister, [2012 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion] Minjee, I'm waiting for her name to go on a major championship, because she's obviously had her fair bit of success, as well.”
By remaining an amateur, Luck will compete in next month’s World Amateur Team Championship in Cancun, Mexico, as well as the Asia-Pacific Amateur in the Republic of Korea in October. Then, there’s Augusta National in April, followed by Erin Hills for the U.S. Open June 15-18, and Royal Birkdale for The Open Championship in July.
Luck is eager to test his game against the best players and the toughest courses. Oakland Hills’ South Course undoubtedly falls in that category, as the Donald Ross layout dubbed “The Monster” by Ben Hogan in 1951 has hosted six U.S. Opens, three PGA Championships and a Ryder Cup.
“You don't get away with hitting average tee shots here,” said Luck. “That's probably the biggest thing that stuck in my mind this week was every time I got to the range, the most important thing I think I was thinking of whilst being out there was, OK, let's start hitting some drivers and let's hit them good, because as I said, you don't get away with hitting it poor off the tee here. You know it's penal when you actually are calling for it to go in bunkers rather than the rough. …
“It's a tremendously designed golf course. It's an absolute pleasure to play.”
Next summer, he will get to mix that pleasure with the mental and physical pain that often comes with competing in major championships, fulfilling a childhood dream a little earlier than expected.
Joey Flyntz is an associate writer for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.