Date: August 17, 2016
Author: Mark Hayes

Luck left to shoulder Aussie US Amateur hopes

Curtis Luck will fly the Australian flag solo into the US Amateur Championship match play after a dramatic day at Oakland Hills in Michigan.

No fewer than 23 players locked on two over par will return in the morning to compete for the final eight berths in the second phase as the South Course seemingly took delight in its “Monster” tag.

Luck carded a remarkable one-over-par 71 to advance in a tie for 19th at one under overall, but his compatriots Cameron Davis (+3), Harrison Endycott (+4), Min Woo Lee (+5) and Karl Vilips (+5) were all sent packing on a wet and wild day in Bloomfield Hills.

Luck, of Perth, began the day well placed at two under after playing the easier North Course in round one, but in sodden conditions after heavy overnight rain, any errant shots were heavily punished.

A brush with near unplayable bunkers on the sixth cost him a double-bogey and a horrendous lie in a another trap on the eighth had him three over and in danger of collapse.

But the Cottesloe Golf Club member is made of stern stuff.

A flushed hybrid drive on the long par-three 9th came up a metre short of the green and, with no run at all, Luck turned to his wedge and duly chipped in for what turned into a momentum-turning birdie.

His tee shot on the 12th was slightly left, finding the fourth of five consecutive bunkers.

But after drawing some shocking lies earlier in his round with several mud and sand balls, this time his lie was perfect.

The WA Open champ hit hybrid from 210m downwind and the ball stopped just 1m behind the hole for a stunning eagle that remarkably drew him back to square for his round.

A bogey on the 17th cost him a few rankings spots, but at six strokes behind American medallist Alex Smalley, it mattered little.

Luck’s World Amateur Team Championship teammates Davis and Endycott were uncustomarily subdued in falling on the wrong side of the +2 cut.

Davis could manage just one birdie on the easier North Course and his fifth bogey of the day on the short par-four 16th was the final straw.

His fellow Sydneysider Endycott, who began at one over and with little wiggle room, looked good through the back nine after starting on the 10th hole of the North Course and was two under for his round after a third birdie on the second.

But the Avondale member had a final hour to forget with a bogey on the fourth compounded by a double on the sixth and then two more bogeys to close on the eighth and ninth as his challenge folded.

Perth’s Min Woo Lee’s round went in a similar pattern on the North Course. The newly crowned US Boys’ champion roared back inside the cut line with birdies on the first and fifth. But a double on the sixth rocked Lee and he couldn’t manage another birdie in his 72.

Melbourne’s Karl Vilips again showed glimpses of his immense talent, but made a few too many mistakes en route to a remarkable 71 on the rugged South Course.

Vilips made five birdies, but endured four bogeys and a double in a round that left him at five over in total, alongside Lee.

The seedings and draw for the match play will be finalised after the enormous playoff concludes overnight.

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