Date: August 12, 2019
Author: Mark Hayes

Micha and mates ready for Pinehurst

If feeling at home on foreign championship courses is half the battle, David Micheluzzi has already taken a big stride towards this week’s US Amateur Championship.

Victorian Micheluzzi is one of six Australians who’ll tee up at world-famous Pinehurst this week, desperate to join Curtis Luck, Nick Flanagan and triple champ Walter Travis as the only Aussie champs of the world’s most prestigious amateur crown.

Others to fly our flag in North Carolina will be Florida-based West Australian Karl Vilips, Nevada-based Queenslander Jack Trent, Canberran Josh Armstrong and New South Wales pair Jordie Garner and the in-form Blake Windred.

But rather than be daunted by the reputation and length of twin host courses Pinehurst No.2 and Pinehurst No.4, Micheluzzi said the Aussies would relish the chance to play on tracks that have distinct similarities to the Melbourne Sandbelt courses with which they’re all so familiar.

“It’s going to be tough, don’t get me wrong,” Micheluzzi said.

“But it’s bouncy and really firm and there’s big crowns on a heap of the greens, so it really suits me and I think the other Aussies, as well.

“To me, it’s going to play a lot like Royal Melbourne … and that suits me just fine.”

Micheluzzi has been given the honour of playing in the top-ranked group by the USGA. The world No.3, a member at Peninsula-Kingswood and home club Cranbourne, will share the first two qualifying rounds of stroke play with world No.2 Conor Gough, of England, and No.1 Cole Hammer, of Texas.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun, but it doesn’t stress me at all,” the Melburnian said.

“Once it might have been an issue, but when you’ve played a few bigger events, you realise you just do your own thing and see how it goes.”

Several of the Aussies will have local caddies, but Garner will have his bag lugged by Australian Amateur runner-up and good mate Nathan Barbieri who remains in town in the hope his alternate status will come to fruition with a late call-up.

The two courses will jointly host the stroke play rounds of the 119th US Amateur on Monday and Tuesday. After 36 holes, the field will be trimmed from 312 players to 64 for match play. The first five rounds of match play – through the semi-finals on Saturday – will be played on the No. 2 course.

The 36-hole championship match on Sunday will be contested over two courses for the first time – the morning round on No.4 with the afternoon round switching back to No.2.