Aussie Luck knows he's up against stateside phenom

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Bloomfield Township — Curtis Luck is 10,000 miles from his home in Perth, Australia.

Nick Carlson is a touch over two hours from his home in Hamilton, Mich.

Guess who might have, oh, a slightly larger cheering section in Saturday's semifinals at the U.S. Amateur at Oakland Hills Country Club.

"That's how it is," Luck said following his 2-up victory over Sahith Theegala in Friday's quarterfinals.

"I understand, being from Michigan, he's going to have a big following. And it's great to see he's got such a massive crowd supporting him this week.
"I'm looking forward to it. We'll just see, hopefully, maybe I'll have to give them something to clap about, even if they don't know to."

Luck, who turned 20 earlier this month, is the seventh-ranked amateur in the world.

Carlson, the Michigan sophomore-to-be, has beaten No. 6, 43 and 35 in his last three matches.

'Nobody' Carlson makes Final Four at U.S. Amateur

Luck — who considered attending college in the state, but decided against it and to focus on a traveling golf career instead — never trailed in his match Friday, but Theegala pulled all square with a birdie at the par-4 16th, the signature hole at Oakland Hills with its greenside water.

The hole was playing just over 300 yards Friday, tempting many players to go for it.

Luck, though, rebounded with a birdie at the 240-yard, par-4 17th hole — a hole many players had to take driver off the tee — and then parred the tough 18th to close out his quarterfinal.

He's trying to become just the second Australian to win the U.S. Amateur, following Nick Flanagan in 2003.

Of course, he'll have his work cut out for him, in the buzz saw known as Carlson, who's not even a top-three player on his own college team — but has caught some kind of fire this week at Oakland Hills, just a short drive from his hometown of Hamilton in West Michigan.

"I've heard his cheers from all around the course the entire week," said Luck, a big fan of beards — with four mentions in his Twitter profile (@CurtisLuck6). "That's awesome for him."