Australia's Curtis Luck wins US Amateur with stirring 8-hole run

Posted at 5:23 PM, Aug 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-23 23:32:43-04
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Curtis Luck won eight consecutive holes shortly after the midway point of the U.S. Amateur final, and the Australian beat Brad Dalke 6 and 4 on Sunday to become the third international champion in four years.
The 36-hole final on the South Course at Oakland Hills was all square after 18, and Dalke won the first hole after the break. Luck answered with an eagle on the 20th to square it again, and that was start of an overwhelming eight-hole run that gave him a commanding lead.
Luck was 7 up with nine holes remaining, and although Dalke won the next two, the Oklahoma Sooner couldn't close the gap any more. He conceded after missing a putt for par on the 32nd hole.
Luck joins Matthew Fitzpatrick of England (2013) and Gunn Yang of South Korea (2014) among recent international winners. He's also only the third Australian-born champion. Nick Flanagan won in 2003 and Walter Travis won it in 1900, 1901 and 1903.
There was no indication that this final match would turn into such a rout. Neither player could gain much of an upper hand in the morning, and even after Luck's eagle on the 20th hole, the match was all square. Then Dalke's round began to unravel with bogeys on 21 and 22.
Luck was 3 up after a birdie on 23. The next hole was a short par 4, but Dalke's tee shot went way to the right, settling in some tall grass. His shot from there caromed off a utility box that was a few feet in front of him, and Luck needed only a par to win that hole.
Luck made a birdie on the 25th hole, and Dalke made bogeys on the following two, giving the Australian an almost insurmountable lead.
The final turned into a breeze for Luck, in contrast to his 21-hole semifinal win over Nick Carlson. Luck got up and down from about 135 yards in a bunker on the second extra hole to keep that match going.
Luck was seventh in the world amateur ranking coming into this event.
Neither Luck nor Dalke led by more than two holes during the first 18 on Sunday.