August 20, 2016
THE MODERATOR: We're here with the first U.S. Amateur finalist Curtis Luck. That's got to be a pretty good sound to your ears.
CURTIS LUCK: Yeah, it's amazing. Midway through the round I was starting to think twice about whether I was going to be there tomorrow, but yeah, just over the moon right now. So excited for tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Let's start looking at things on hole 18. Both of you struggled a little bit off the tee there, but you were able to make the clutch putt to move things into extra holes.
CURTIS LUCK: Yeah, unfortunately for Nick, I think he just hit his drive a bit too good, a bit of adrenaline going down the 18th, and I think just got a bad break under that pine down there. Straight off the tee, I was fortunate that it wasn't looking too bright for me because I was on the tongue of the bunker but fortunately I was a stance, so I was able to knock it up around the green where Nick kind of had to chip out sideways.
But yeah, 18, that's how golf goes, fortunately for me, unfortunately for Nick. It's pretty cruel like that. You don't have to do much wrong, and he really didn't do a whole lot wrong all day, and one shot cost him quite severely in the end. But yeah, I feel for him.
As I said, that's golf. It's the sport we play.
THE MODERATOR: And then you both exchanged those amazing birdies on the second playoff hole. That putt you had...
CURTIS LUCK: Yeah, I saw he obviously hit it real close in there for his second from the fairway, and it really didn't give me any option other than to go for it and hit it close myself, so I was kind of lucky I had a perfect distance and a perfect lie in the trap. Managed to pick it cleanly and use the backstop, and then obviously you're staring down a three- or four-footer that you know if it doesn't go in, it's loss of match realistically. That kind of probably worked in my favor at the end of the day because I was able to hit it a bit firmer than I would have in the stroke play or early in the match.
Yeah, it was a good putt. Yeah, there's not really much to say. Yeah, lucky really.
Q. Can you think of a more clutch shot than the one at 11 or the putt you hit at 10?
CURTIS LUCK: No. Nope. Not with the situation on hand, and especially after seeing his -- as I said, his second shot into 11 because I didn't have an option. It was a gimme. I didn't give it to him because I'm naughty like that, but yeah, that was a gimme. He was always going to make that. I can't really think of anything that would replace that.
Q. You had your dad caddying for you today; what was it like to share this experience with him?
CURTIS LUCK: Yeah, it's awesome. It's so great to be able to kind of go back and forth from dad over every shot out there. He's a pretty good green reader. Occasionally he throws in a bit of a spastic read, but most of the time he's pretty much spot-on. But yeah, it's been great having him on the bag this week. We don't really have that pair quite often so much now because I'm traveling a lot, and he usually stays home, but we've managed to fit it in a couple of times this year, and it's worked out really well.
Q. On the 17th hole you're watching him with a chance to win there, and then you've got to make that clutch putt on the 19th hole. After a while, how are you handling all these emotions seeing the fate of the match continue on by some great play, but it's got to be tugging on you a little bit. How did you handle that?
CURTIS LUCK: Match play is a great game for that, especially when you can build a little bit of momentum. There's nothing more annoying personally for me when you see someone who's hit two worse shots than you have and come out with the same score or a better score. As I said, match play is interesting like that because in stroke play you just don't really -- it doesn't faze you, you kind of do your own thing and get on with it. But in match play obviously it comes down to what they're doing, as well.
A bit of momentum was obviously built through 18, and then holing that putt on the first playoff hole, which I actually thought might have missed - I'm not going to lie - but it went in dead center, and yeah, as I said, played the next two holes pretty well at the end of the day. Yeah, that momentum stuck with me.
Q. How long did you have on your second shot at 12 in the playoff, and how long was that putt?
CURTIS LUCK: It was 257 meters to the hole. It was 237 carry front, which is, what -- it's just under 260. Well, it's 260 to the front, 280 to the back.
Q. What did you hit there?
CURTIS LUCK: As good a 3-wood as I can. Basically that's my driver length pretty much, so I just thought that -- well, my chipping is one of my strong points, so if I can get it around the green anywhere I've got a chance. That was my theory. Fortunately I didn't have to rely on my chipping. But yeah, I just hit it as hard as I could.
Q. How long was the putt there, the first putt that you had?
CURTIS LUCK: That's a good question. Between 45 feet and -- 45 feet I'd say, yeah.
Q. What was the club and distance at 11?
CURTIS LUCK: I had 123 meters, so that would be 135 yards, and I hit a gap wedge, a 52-degree.
Q. And then secondly, how soon after you shake hands on the extra holes there are you thinking about Augusta and a date at the U.S. Open next year?
CURTIS LUCK: Within seconds, yeah.
Q. What do you think when you think of that place?
CURTIS LUCK: Probably don't want to really say what I'm thinking. But no, it was -- yeah, it's ridiculous. From what I've heard from people walking around Augusta, that's a place where there's not a leaf out of place. I can only imagine -- I mean, I don't know if I've got that start in Augusta yet. Apparently that comes out quite late, that information, but the U.S. Open yet again is notoriously probably the toughest major. Love to test my golf against some of the world's best. Really excited for it.
Q. I don't think you ever led in regulation throughout the entire match, so what was it like to keep battling and stay with him?
CURTIS LUCK: Yeah, as I said, he hits it unbelievably well. He hits it great. There were a few occasions where I kind of turned to dad and said, look, I think he's going to stiff this one, and he didn't, which kind of gave me a chance, and they're the chances you look for in match play. Dad kept reinforcing when we were out there just dig deep and give it all you can, and if it doesn't go your way, you know you've had a good event, and oh well. But if it does, you're going to come out on top. Fortunately that was the result of today, and yeah, as I said, I just dug deep every time I got down, and then through the playoff it was just a grind, and yeah, it worked out in my favor.
Q. You talked a little bit yesterday when people were asking what it might be like given the crowd that Nick was going to have probably supporting him. What was it like for you today to handle that and deal with that, and how did you try to handle it?
CURTIS LUCK: They were sensational. They really were. I applaud them, because they were so good. Their etiquette was great out there. We didn't have any issues really with people getting in the way. You know, the volunteers did their best, too, to help us out, so I thank them, as well. But they were great. They were clapping -- good shots they were clapping, regardless of the player. And yeah, as I said, at the end of the day, it's always fun to play in front of a large crowd, and that is exactly what it was. You know, you get a bit of adrenaline and a lot of excitement whilst you're out there. Yeah, as I said, hats off to the crowd today, because they were absolutely awesome.
Q. Interesting exchange on 14 green; you had a putt that looked like it was down and it came back up. You had won the hole. And then he had a very short putt that looked like it went in and came out. What were you thinking at that point, like wow, what's going on here?
CURTIS LUCK: Yeah, that putt I hit on 14, I'm still baffled how it didn't go in. As you said, fortunately I was able to walk away with the win on that hole, but yeah, who knows. But yeah, the fact that he let me in the game there was obviously a nice little gift after he made a really good birdie on 13. As I was saying, that's all about the momentum, and he ended up birdieing the next hole. He got back to 1-up, and there's nothing I could have done about that. I tried my best but didn't quite get the job done on the next. But yeah, that's exactly how match play goes.
I was thinking about giving him that putt at a certain point, and then I thought again about it like a split second after he hit the chip and ended up deciding not to give it to him, and obviously I'm pretty happy with that decision now.
Q. It's a long, grueling week and you get some nice perks when you win today. How do you reset for tomorrow and how important is it for you to finish it off?
CURTIS LUCK: Yeah, that's a very good question. I'm hoping that I'll sleep tonight because I didn't sleep last night. I reckon I got an hour's sleep last night at best, so I was pretty excited and my heart was racing. There was nothing I could really do about that.
But yeah, a good sleep, some good food, hit some balls on the range, try and figure out my driver a little bit, that will hopefully do the job. But yeah, good sleep is always so important for 36 holes. There's nothing really worse going into 36 holes feeling tired before it. It's grueling.
Q. As you walked to the first tee this morning and there was the U.S. Open trophy there waiting for you, was that a little bit of a wake-up call for what you were going up against?
CURTIS LUCK: Yeah, it was. I was actually feeling pretty good until I got to that first tee, and I actually did not notice it. I walked past it. I must have nearly trod on it, and I was feeling good. I hadn't really thought about it until that point, and then Mark, when he was kind of announcing us to the tee, managed to mention it, and I turned my head to the right and saw the trophy there, and it was a bit of a shock, and that's when the nerves kicked in. Yeah, it's pretty cool, though, to be on the tee box with the U.S. Open trophy.
THE MODERATOR: Tomorrow you play for the title. Congratulations, Curtis. Congratulations to your family there in the back. Get some sleep. We'll see you tomorrow.
CURTIS LUCK: Thanks very much.
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