Angus Flanagan (Minnesota Athletics/Twitter photo)
By Rick Woelfel
FLOURTOWN, Pa. — Angus Flanagan started playing golf at age 3. In the years since, the Minnesota sophomore has been able to strike a remarkable balance; finding success in the sport and developing a passion for it without allowing himself to be totally consumed by it.
Flanagan turned in a remarkable performance at the Big Ten championship this weekend, finishing at even-par 212 for the 54-hole event to earn co-medalist honors with Adrien Dumont de Chassart of Illinois. The result means that Flanagan will represent the Big Ten as an individual in the upcoming NCAA regionals. Dumont de Chassart is also assured of a place in regionals because Illinois won the Big Ten team title for the fifth straight time and the 10th time in 11 years.
Flanagan tied the competitive course record at Philadelphia Cricket Club’s Wissahickon Course with an opening-round 65 and actually held a two-shot lead with two holes to play in the final round before finishing with back-to-back bogeys.
But even in the midst of three-putting from 15 feet at the final green and missing a four-foot comebacker for a par that would have given him medalist honors outright, the pleasure Flanagan takes in the game of golf was obvious to anyone who cared to look.
“At the end of the day it was a really good fight out there,” he said. “It’s tough, obviously, to finish with two bogeys but at the end of the day I’m still the Big Ten champion in my sophomore year.
“Really, for me, I think it’s just being out there and enjoying it. If I hit a bad shot, I don’t let it affect me, I just move on and try to hit a good shot.”
A native of Woking, England, near London, Flanagan was introduced to golf by his father Steve.
“My dad is a pretty good player himself,” Flanagan said. “He played a lot as an amateur. I lived on a golf course, so it was kind of set for me, really. I got my first clubs at three and every time I looked out my window, there was a golf course, so it was pretty much set for me to keep playing golf.”
But Flanagan competed in other sports as well, including cricket, soccer and field hockey. In fact, field hockey, a popular sport for males in England, was Flanagan’s best sport early on. But he gave up the game at age 14 in the wake of back issues and after being knocked unconscious by a hockey ball.
Before college, Flanagan had an enviable career in his homeland, winning the Carris Trophy as the English boys’ U-18 medal-play championship and being named to the England Boys Golf Team for 2016-17. But even then, he had more on his mind than golf.
“I went to boarding school back home,” Flanagan said, “so for me, it was hard to balance golf and work at the same time. To be honest, coming over here, I know it’s a lot of academics, but I’ve got a really good support team back in Minnesota with the academics.
“To me it was a lot easier to be honest coming out here because it felt like I had more time (for golf). In high school, I really didn’t have as much time. Growing up, I was lucky enough to have a golf course, a nine holer at my school. But it was really tough, having school from 8:00 until six in the evening and not being able to play, whereas now we have class from 8:00 until 12:00 and then we have the opportunity to play and practice. I didn’t really play too much growing up.”
When he made the decision to come to the United States to play college golf, Flanagan selected Minnesota over UNLV.
“It was a tough decision, obviously,” he said, “but at the end of the day I felt more comfortable being in Minneapolis, And the team that we have is such a great group of guys. We have 10 guys on the team and we all get on so well with each other.
“I’ve heard stories about teammates that didn’t get on and there were rivalries, and stuff like that.
“I wanted to go somewhere where I was going to play. I’ve played all of my events at Minnesota. So, I’m really happy obviously with what I’ve done.
“A lot of people back home were like ‘Why did you choose Minnesota?’ They had no idea where it was. But at the end of the day, we’ve got a really good practice facility and (as far as the weather) you’ve just got to get used to it really.
‘We’ve got a young team and next year, we’ll be really good I think.”