It was a composed Curtis Luck that rode an emotional rollercoaster ride at Royal Fremantle Golf Club during the final round of the Nexus Risk TSA Group WA Open.
Luck quickly turned a three shot deficit into a three shot advantage on overnight leader Daniel Fox, thanks to a 6-under par run over his opening 12 holes.
This advantage was erased just as quickly as the winds picked up that afternoon. Four bogeys from Luck’s final five holes condemned the West Aussie teenager to a brutal runner-up finish, while the 39-year-old Fox seized his first tour victory as he charged home with a 3-under back nine.
The heartbreak of Luck’s closing holes may be etched in the memory of the many hundreds who lined the fairways that afternoon, but the records show that both Fox and Luck matched each other on the final day with closing rounds of 70.
After looking relaxed hours earlier in the face of a likely victory, it was the same composed Luck who faced the difficult questions from the media.
“I put up a pretty good effort, especially in that last round,” said Curtis Luck of his tournament.
“I just wasn’t able to finish it off. I didn’t hit the shots I needed to, but I’m extremely happy with the second (place finish), I would have taken that at the start of the week.”
Luck says he’s in no rush to join the professional ranks, although he admitted it could happen anywhere from tomorrow to a few years from now. He still sees value in retaining his amateur status, and developing as much as he can before he plays with money and tour status on the line.
“I think every bad experience is a good experience,” said Luck.
“I’m sure if I’m in that situation in the near future, I probably won’t make the same mistakes I did today.”
Twenty years his senior, winner Daniel Fox spoke highly of his vanquished opponent, who he assured will have his time in the sun.
“I’ll definitely will take into account some of the words that he said,” said Luck of Fox’s winner’s speech.
“It’s not a major blow and I’m only 19, and I’ve got a more time to sort myself out before I think about turning pro.”
With his name etched on the Terry Gale Cup thanks to his low amateur win, Luck will be remembered for coming out on top from a field of 27 amateurs.
What that trophy won’t say is that Luck also had the better of 102 professionals, including last week’s WAPGA champion Brett Rumford and his fellow European Tour golfer in Jason Scrivener.
Since Terry Gale first won the WA Open low amateur in 1972, seventeen WA Open titles have been won by a golfer who has also won the low amateur.
If there’s ever an indicator of future success, it’s this cup — with Luck joining the likes of Brett Rumford, Greg Chalmers, Stephen Leaney and Oliver Goss as a winner.
“That’s extremely positive,” said Luck of his low amateur win.
“I’m really confident that down the line that I’ll be able to win here, whether as an amateur or as a professional, it’s definitely a sign of good things to come.”
Overshadowed by Luck, but still in the top-10, was fellow WA amateur Min Woo Lee.
Lee and Luck share the recent honour of holding the round 1 lead in a professional event, thanks to Lee’s opening round of 64 at the WA PGA, and Luck opening with 66 this week.
Amazingly, today was the first time the pair were drawn together since the 2013 Pennant Final between Cottesloe and Royal Fremantle. And even with the stakes so high, they didn’t waste the opportunity to enjoy themselves.
“We had a lot of fun out there, I don’t think there was one point where we weren’t smiling,” said Luck.
“I’m really glad I got paired with Min Woo. He’s obviously playing great golf and I think he’s pretty much ready to start competing in these pro evens as well.”
When asked where he think Min Woo is at with his game, Luck had some high praise.
“He’s ahead of where I was at that age so it’s awesome to see. I hope he keeps excelling the way he is, because he's playing awesome golf.”
Whether that’s modesty or honesty from Luck, it’s hard not to be excited about what is to come for this pair from the West.