24 Aug 2020 | Professional golf |
Luck grits out maiden pro title
by Martin Blake
Curtis Luck has won his maiden tournament as a professional, making a tricky, sliding putt at the 72nd hole to win on the Korn Ferry Tour in Columbus, Ohio.
The 24-year-old Perth professional’s victory was the seventh by an Australian on the tournaments of the world this year, after victories early in the year by Cameron Smith, Adam Scott, Marc Leishman, Min Woo Lee, Lucas Herbert and Wade Ormsby.
Today he shot an even-par 71 to post 11-under and win by a shot from three Americans, picking up $US180,000 in prizemoney.
For Luck, it was “relief” that proved to be the prevailing emotion as he finally opened his winning account as a pro. He previously won the WA Open in 2016, but that was as an amateur. He was also the US Amateur champion and the Asia-Pacific Amateur champion in the same year, but his path as a pro has not been so smooth.
The Western Australian started the final round with a lead of a shot and targeted a bogey-free round on the University of Ohio’s Scarlet course.
But it was a tricky day and the swoopers came. Luck bogeyed the eighth and 11th holes and dropped out of the lead, and Americans Theo Humphrey and Taylor Montgomery posted 10-under totals in the clubhouse.
Luck surged late, making birdies at the 15th and 16th to regain top spot at 11-under par, then parred in. At the 18th, his approach to the par-four found a greenside bunker, and his playing partner Cameron Young, at 10-under, had a short birdie putt.
The Australian hit his trap shot to seven feet, and rolled the putt in for the win after Young missed his opportunity.
“It was a tough day from start to finish,’’ said Luck afterward. “The goal today was to keep the bogeys off the card, play smart. I didn’t hit it as good as I have the last three days, so sometimes it was harder to play smart because I didn’t have the same options. But I still did my best and put it back into play.
“Unfortunately, I made a couple of bogeys but I just rolled with them and dug deep at the finish. It was a stressful day. I’m very happy that it’s over and I could just sneak out on top.” Luck gets a start in the US Open out of his win and status on the secondary tour for the next two years. There is also the carrot of a full US PGA Tour card, which will go to the top 25 on the points list on the Korn Ferry Tour at the end of next year.
“For me one of the biggest strengths I have on the golf course is digging in and showing my grit,’’ he said. “To bounce back on 15 and 16 – the putt on 16 was huge – and an awesome up and down at the last to save the day.
“Golf’s a funny game. I was pretty certain that if I didn’t make my up and down there Cameron was going to make his putt and it wasn’t going to even be a playoff. I was sitting down a tiny bit in the bunker. I said to my caddie ‘I’ve got to give myself a look. I’m putting good all week. There’s no reason not to back myself’. To be able to hole a seven foot left-to-righter under the pump is huge.”
Luck’s trajectory has not been as inexorably upward as he would have liked, but he has remained philosophical about it. “Golf’s really tough. It’s not gone 100 percent to plan the way I wanted to when I turned pro. I’ve just stuck with it and worked hard. To get a win out here is massive because not only does it give me status here for a couple of years, it just shows that I’m able to compete.”
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