Date: September 19, 2019
Author: Kirsty Wrice

Michel�s bid for US Mid-Am history

Lukas Michel is on the cusp of making history.

No foreign-born player has won the US Mid-Amateur championship in the event’s 38-year history, but Melbourne's Michel has stormed into the final at Colorado today.

The 25-year-old will face Joseph Deraney, of Mississippi, in the 36-hole showdown teeing off 10pm tonight Melbourne time (AEST).

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And if he succeeds, his wildest dreams will come true with exemptions into next year’s Masters and US Open.

Michel is the third Australian to reach a USGA final in 2019, joining U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Gabriela Ruffels and U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur runner-up Sue Wooster

The No.46 seed earned his final berth by ousting 2016 champion, Stewart Hagestad, 2-up in their semi-final.

“I am really pleased with the day – doesn't get any better than two wins,” said Michel.

“It's definitely the biggest accomplishment probably I've had in my career so far.

“It means a lot, sort of proves that my game is sort of where it needs to be.

“I can't ask for much more.”

In his first US-Mid Amateur appearance, the Metropolitan member played exceptionally, taking an early 3-up advance through nine in his match against Hagestad.

But Hagestad, coming off helping the USA to a victory in the Walker Cup, slowly chipped away at his deficit and eventually took a 1-up lead with a birdie on the par-5 15th hole.

The Victorian state team member rebounded with a gorgeous 5-iron approach to 10 feet, setting up a two-putt birdie on 16 to tie the match.

Hagestad then proceeded to miss the par-3 17th green with his tee shot, leading to bogey.

Michel capitalised with a clutch two-putt par, taking a 1-up lead to 18.

As Hagestad found a fairway bunker and his second flew the green, Michel was left with a 15-ft for a birdie and the match.

When Hagestad, World No.5, failed to convert his par putt, Michel lagged his putt to 2-ft to seal his finals berth.

“It was obviously a really good day,” said the World No.287.

“Played really good in the morning. Played a great front nine against Stewart. Really pleased to get that lead early.

And with two major spots on the line, Michel is fully aware of what lies ahead, and what he needs to do to get there.  

“(I am) just trying to get away from everything else that's happening.”

“Just get honed in on what I have to do: hit golf shots.”

“Pros can play their whole life and not get that opportunity – nothing gets better than that.”

In the morning quarterfinals, Michel needed 20 holes to eliminate Jacob Koppenberg after seeing a 4-up lead with five to play evaporate.

Koppenberg made two birdies and an eagle before winning the 18th hole with a par to force extra holes. After both players birdied the par-5 19th hole, Michel prevailed with a two-putt par from 20 feet at par-3 20th.

Michel’s road to the quarter finals:

69-76 in stroke play to earn the No. 46 seed
R64: Def. Marc Engellenner 2-up
R32: Def. Nick Nosewicz, 2&1
R16: Def. Dan Ellis, 4&3
Quarters: Def. Jacob Koppenberg on the 20th
Semifinals: Def. Stewart Hagestad 2-up