BLOOMFIELD HILLS, MI (August 21, 2016) -- With 17 holes remaining in the 116th U.S. Amateur Championship match at Oakland Hills Country Club, Australian, Curtis Luck was 1 down to American Brad Dalke. By the time the two walked off the 27th hole Luck had won eight holes in a row and taken a 7 up lead that he would not relinquish.
Five holes later on the 32nd hole Luck, ranked seventh in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, closed out a 6&4 win. Luck became the third Australian to win the U.S. Amateur, joining Walter J. Travis (1900, 1901, 1903) and Nick Flanagan (2003).
“Yeah, it's definitely sinking in now,” said Luck of his victory. “It's obviously an amazing feeling to be named the U.S. Amateur champion for 2016. It's something I've dreamt of since I was about 16.”
During the opening 18-holes of the 36-hole match, neither player was able to separate themselves and Luck and Dalke headed to the second round all-square.
Dalke, a sophomore at Oklahoma, led 1 up after the first 17 holes but it was Luck grabbing the momentum before the break with a hole winning par on the 18th hole.
"It was extremely important," Luck said of winning the 18th hole." Brad (Dalke) had just started to get on a roll with the putter and I think he might have ran away with it had I not won that hole."
ROAD TO THE FINALS
At first it didn't appear as if Luck had gained any momentum by winning the final hole of the opening 18-holes, as Dalke regained a 1 up lead with a win on the 19th hole.
The lead didn't last long as Luck tied the match on the next hole with an eagle and then took the lead on the 21st hole. Luck never trailed again as he won eight straight holes.
“Oakland Hills is known as being one of the toughest major venues there is, and it's one that's stood up to time,” said Luck. “To be a champion at such a tremendous golf course and a golf course that I had so much fun playing just, yeah, means the world.”
Now leading 5 up Luck put the proverbial nail in the coffin on the par-4 26th hole.
After missing the fairway left off the tee, Luck laid up and had a lengthy pitch for his third shot. Luck judged the distance perfectly leaving him an easy par putt and when Dalke bogeyed the lead was now 6 up.
The eight hole winning streak by Luck is believed to be the longest since the U.S. Amateur switched to the stroke-play, match-play format in 1973.
Dalke did try to rally, winning the 28th and 29th holes to creep within 5 down but the deficit was to large. On the par-5 30th hole and with Dalke already in close, Luck responded by knocking his third shot tight as well, ensuring that the hole was halved with pars.
"I just didn’t really feel comfortable, really until 11 or 12 (on the second 18)," said Dalke of his second round struggles on Sunday. "I was trying my hardest but a comeback wasn't very likely. The week was awesome (though), all the fans were great, what a great week. It was awesome here at Oakland Hills."
Two holes later Luck, with his father on the bag and his mother and grandparents in the crowd, the Australian finished things off with a championship winning par.
With the victory, Luck has earned exemptions into the 2017 Masters, U.S. Open and British Open.
"I will be be staying amateur for likely the next year now," said Luck. "I had been maybe thinking of turning professional but it had always been in the back of my mind (that by) playing in events like this; where you have the opportunity to get into some great events (I might have to put it off)."
By finishing as the runner-up, Dalke receives exemptions into next years Masters and U.S. Open. He will also automatically qualify for the next three U.S. Amateurs.
The 2017 U.S. Amateur will be held at Riviera Country Club from August 14-20.
-The USGA contributed to this story