April 4, 2017
MODERATOR: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and we are delighted and we are pleased to welcome to the interview room the No. 1 ranked amateur in the world, from Australia, making his first Masters appearance, Curtis Luck.
Curtis is one of five amateurs to compete this week and has earned his invitation in two different ways: First, with his decisive victory in the 2016 U.S. Amateur, and then last fall, he erased a seven‑shot deficit with a bogey‑free final round of 67 to become the 2016 Asia‑Pacific Amateur Champion.
Before we open up to questions, Curtis, what does the opportunity of competing in the Masters mean to you and what are you looking forward to the most this week?
CURTIS LUCK: So I think when I was ten, I started playing golf. And right then and there, I knew that golf was something I wanted to pursue as a career. So it's obviously been a long road, ten years to here, and I've worked extremely hard to finally be here at a major, and particularly the Masters, is a dream come true for me and my family, I'm sure, who have supported me the whole way through.
I guess the thing I'm most excited about is teeing up and getting on the first hole Thursday morning or Thursday afternoon, whenever it may be, and yeah, getting out there and obviously hitting some shots for real.
Q. You've obviously had some pretty good playing partners and practice rounds. You've gone from Jason Day to Adam Scott and now Rory this morning. What have you been asking, watching, doing, to garner as much as you can from these though guys?
CURTIS LUCK: I did most of my preparation beforehand, like leading into this week. I got in Wednesday, so I kind of got a really good idea of what the course is playing like and how to play it before I got to the practice rounds with those guys.
But, you know, they just pointed out a few things, a few pin locations to be wary of, a few putts to try not to leave yourself. But really, the best thing about playing with those guys is watching how they do it; the lines they take off the tees are always interesting.
Playing with Jason a few holes on Saturday, Scotty Sunday and Rory today, Tuesday, yeah, it's awesome to watch. They are all such nice guys. More than anything, it's just relaxing, walking around and being able to have a casual talk with those fellas.
Q. Was it easy to distinguish between almost fan‑like watching, and work‑watching?
CURTIS LUCK: Yeah, it's‑‑ yeah, it is pretty awesome. I've been lucky enough that I played with Jason a couple weeks ago at the Arnold Palmer. I played nine holes with him there and I played with Adam Scott end of last year at the Aussie PGA. Both those games I've seen.
Rory today was impressive. I was a little bit worried at the start when we said we were going to play just one ball and he birdied the first two, but he slowed down after that.
It's definitely hard not to watch these guys. These are the guys I've grown up; I've wanted to aspire to. Yeah, it's cool to actually be playing alongside them rather than just watching them, which is nice.
Q. How much did you kind of kick yourself after what happened with your PGA TOUR start and the incorrect scorecard? And obviously with attention to detail being really important here, have you kind of made sure that you stay patient and focused and stuff?
CURTIS LUCK: No. It's just unfortunately that's the first time I've ever mis‑signed a scorecard, and I don't plan on doing it ever again. But nothing's changed. I've been playing good golf and I've done everything right up until here. That's just one mistake and I've learnt from it. As I said, I can assure you I won't do it again.
But everything's been the same. The preparation has been the same. Yeah, just doing what I do best.
Q. When you got here last Wednesday, was that your first visit to Augusta? And if so, take us through a little bit what you're doing Wednesday and Thursday and Friday leading up to the weekend?
CURTIS LUCK: Yeah, so I drove in Wednesday morning from Atlanta. I played the Georgia Cup on Tuesday with Scott Grégory. Yeah, drove up Wednesday morning, played; I think I teed off around one o'clock on Wednesday. The wind was already up.
I don't know, I guess first time out there, I was a little nervous. Even though there's not a single sole on the golf course, there are a few members around there. But, yeah, we just got straight into really, starting chipping around that front nine, dropping a few balls here and there.
The local caddie, Brian Tam, who helped me a fair bit over those three days had said, you know, these are the spots you can miss it and these are the spots you can't.
Wednesday the back nine, we ended up playing just one ball to kind of, you know, I guess that's what I've come here to do. So just more so for fun and to enjoy the experience first time around Augusta, we decided to play one ball.
Thursday, same thing. Knocked it around, chipped, hit plenty of drives so I had some ideas of a few lines to take off the tees. It's mostly a second‑shot golf course, so you just have to know where to miss it around the greens. I think the big thing is getting my head around roughly where the four pins have been the last few years on each green and just, yeah, having a game strategy for each of those pins.
But, yeah, since then, I've kind of made all my notes in my head and I'm ready to go, so I've just kind of been trying to ease off the amount of shots I'm hitting out there and try and actually hit some properly good golf shots at some flags and, yeah, hole out some putts.
Q. Do you think that the preparation you've had playing with those three guys you just mentioned, is that the best preparation you could have asked for leading in?
CURTIS LUCK: Yeah, it's great. As I said, it's really good to play with Adam. He's so casual. As I said, it's really relaxing just to be out there and I guess enjoying the round fully. Yeah, I wouldn't have asked to play with anyone else, really.
We'll see. The weather is not going to be too good tomorrow, but if I can sneak out for a few holes tomorrow, I might see if there's anyone on the range who is looking for a game.
Q. Maybe Jack Nicklaus or something?
CURTIS LUCK: Yeah, that would be nice. I think my coach would be all over that one.
Q. You've had a lot of time to anticipate playing in this, obviously after winning the Amateur in August. With that time, was there anything specific you've been doing in your preparation; identifying, I want to be able to do this the first week in April and play well here at the Masters?
CURTIS LUCK: Yeah, there are a few things. I think putting, lag putting is a really important thing around here. I think all the champions who have won around this course have been great putters from distance. So I guess getting on quick greens and practicing, yeah, just really undulating putts has been important. So that's something I've been thinking about consciously.
Not too much else, to be honest. It's just another‑‑ at the end of the day, we've just got to look at it as another golf course. It's fairways, greens, bunkers, whatever. You've just got to hit the right shots depending on the day. I could have easily looked into a few of the tee shots a bit more, but at the same time, you know, you can't really predict what the weather is going to be like, and that completely changes the way the course plays.
Q. How was last night with the other amateurs?
CURTIS LUCK: Yeah, the dinner we had last night for the amateurs was awesome. I enjoyed that a lot. There were a heap of the Augusta National members, USGA officials, same with the R&A. It was great to see some faces that I met six months ago at the Asian Am and at U.S. Am last year was cool, as well.
We had a couple of really good speeches last night. I think Johnny Miller made a terrific speech, really emotional, about his time here at Augusta, and just his career. It was really good to listen to. So he had a couple of, I guess, good words of advice for playing this course, and he is a big believer in playing it aggressively. So that kind of stuck in my mind from last night, and I think I will take that on the course with me on Thursday.
MODERATOR: He did a good job last night. Very good.
Q. Obviously you're looking forward to this week and focus on playing well this week, but afterwards, my understanding is that you've said you're going to turn pro. What is your schedule going to be like moving forward? Are you trying to play in PGA TOUR events on sponsor exemptions and do you have anything lined up?
CURTIS LUCK: Yeah, turn pro straight after this week. At this stage, yeah, we're just going through, I guess, the process of trying to line up some invitations into events. We've got three settled at the moment and potentially four or five sort of that are there if I want the offer and want to take it.
But, yeah, ultimately the goal is to play here for the next six months. Use those invites to the best of my ability and try and follow in, I guess, Bryson and Jon Rahm's footsteps and get some status for 2018 here in the U.S.
Q. Have you locked in your first one?
CURTIS LUCK: Yeah, I'm waiting‑‑ I would love to debut at Hilton Head next week. Just speaking to all the players, it's apparently such a great golf course and really doesn't show any consistent winners. You've obviously got to find fairways and find greens. Yeah, I would love to make my debut there, but at the same time, beggars can't be choosers.
Q. Are you here to win the Masters, be the low amateur, make the cut? What are your goals?
CURTIS LUCK: At this stage, so much planning has been going into ready to turn pro, I'm just here to have fun. I think if I enjoy my time out on the golf course, the golf will come with it hopefully. That's usually how it works.
But yeah, all this experience that I'm getting and that I've had over the past six months, have all really been there‑‑ I guess they have been for the development of my game, the learning curve to get ready to turn professional and actually do it to try to make some money.
I look at this week, and it's obviously going to be a completely new level of crowd out there. So I guess dealing with that's going to be interesting. I can't predict how it's going to be. I'm sure it will be surreal.
But, yeah, anyway, I'm sure it will all be good experience, ready for my first pro event out here.
Q. What was more important to your development: The dominance of the U.S. Am or the brilliant come‑from‑behind at the Asia‑Pacific Am?
CURTIS LUCK: Good question. Both as good as each other. Two different, completely different events. One being 72‑hole stroke play and the other being match play. Match play is an interesting game. Yeah, I'd say they are both crucial to my development.
I guess the Asian Am is a good one to get under your belt. The field probably doesn't have the depth that the U.S. Am does but, yeah, at the same time you're playing four rounds, and putting four consistent days on the board in quite tough conditions. Yeah, Asian Am was awesome.
Q. Did you stay at the Crow's Nest last night? We were talking about that yesterday. Tell us a little bit about that and what you're going to be doing the rest of the week in terms of where you're staying and how many friends and family you have staying with you and that sort of arrangement.
CURTIS LUCK: Yeah, so stayed in the Crow's Nest last night after the Amateur dinner. All five of us were up therelast night. I'm not sure how Stewart went. I might have felt his feet coming to my room.
Yeah, it's a cool place obviously to be and it's something that you have to experience. It was good fun last night with the other five amateurs. We stayed up relatively late just chatting and getting to know one another, and then, yeah, we all went to bed and I had an early start this morning.
But I'll be in a house just down the road with my family for the rest of the week. Just I think for the golf, it's a benefit on my behalf to be away from the golf course, and yeah, just I guess do my own thing and be with my family.
Q. How many of them are here?
CURTIS LUCK: My sister, my mum, my dad, my nana, my sister's boyfriend and my coach. Well, there must be six of us‑‑ yeah, six of us. No, seven in the house.
Q. If someone was to ask you, how can Curtis Luck win the Masters, how would you respond to that?
CURTIS LUCK: Get it in the hole better than anyone else (laughter). No, sorry.
Q. What about your game do you think will you take the most confidence into Augusta?
CURTIS LUCK: Even though I said it's a second‑shot golf course, I think teeing it up well, like getting in the right spots on the fairways; it's actually very similar to a course back home, Royal Melbourne, in the fact that you are given quite wide targets off the tee. But at the same time, there's very specific spots you need to hit it, if you want to, I guess, gain access to some of the pins out there.
It's a course you can afford to be aggressive when you get those green lights. Ultimately, there are going to be bogey holes out there. 4 is a brutal par 3 up the hill and I said to myself that if I walk off with bogey there, I'm not going to be too stressed out. But it's about making the most of those birdie opportunities when they are there.
Q. And what exactly about your game do you think gives you the most confidence at a course like this? Is it driving? Putting? Chipping? Shot selection?
CURTIS LUCK: It's probably just my creativity to be honest, which is shot selection. I would hope that I can use the slopes to the best of my ability and to get the ball close. I use my imagination when I play golf and I hit lots of different types of shots, so hopefully that gets me through the week.
Q. Have you had any compliments on your hair or beard this week yet?
CURTIS LUCK: Not yet. I'm waiting on that. Hopefully, in the first round, I'll have a few WA supporters out there. Actually a bunch of them are getting in tomorrow night. Yeah, I'm sure there will be something coming out of the crowd during the tournament.
Q. How important is staying in the moment and staying patient? Is that perhaps the biggest key for you this week?
CURTIS LUCK: Yeah, definitely, I would say it's one of them at least. Yeah, it's going to be‑‑ as I said, I can't really predict how it's going to be Thursday. It's going to be an experience of a lifetime. So I guess just focusing on the little things is going to be important, and yes, I've got my coach, Craig, on the bag, and he's going to do a great job of settling me down out there, which will allow me to just focus on the golf hopefully.
Q. Have you ever got so nervous that you felt nauseous on tee boxes or anything?
CURTIS LUCK: Yeah, I have. It's probably the best learning experience I've had on the golf course was in 2015 at the WA Open, my home open.
I was four or five in front with seven holes to play I think, and I just‑‑ yeah, I was so nervous coming down the stretch. I let it get the better of me and I probably got a little bit ahead of myself and I let that championship go. So I ended up coming second and, fortunately, I bounced back better and won it the following year.
So yeah, I definitely experienced that and I'm thankful that I have, because, yeah, hopefully that will do me good this week.
Q. You mentioned home support. Are you expecting a lot of that over here and will you feed off that?
CURTIS LUCK: Yeah, there's a good group called Links Sports Tours that run a tour here to Augusta every year. They have done a really good job this year of getting Aussies over. So I think just with their group, they have got 290 Australians. Hopefully I can get a few of those guys out and watching me on Thursday and Friday. But I know there's probably a group of almost 20 to 30 Cottesloe members, my home golf club, will be great. There's going to be familiar faces out there.
I've definitely got support and I'll have it back home, as well, which is, yeah, very nice.
Q. Just touching on your WA Open win, do you constantly remind yourself that you've beaten a field of professionals every time you tee it up in a pro event?
CURTIS LUCK: Probably not. It's something obviously that I'm very proud of doing in my home state. But that was ‑‑ I think at that moment, it was a good point where I realized that I can compete with professionals. But I haven't really to be honest bounced off that for‑‑ yeah, I don't really think about it that much. I'm one of those guys that I kind of stay in the present and look to the future. So I don't really go back to the past a whole heap.
Q. Curious about the head cover you have for your 3‑wood, the Kumamon. Where did you get that?
CURTIS LUCK: There's a Japanese member back at my home club and he spends limited time in Perth but he comes down and plays. Yeah, I've met him and he gave that to me as a gift. So I respect that and I've had it on my bag since the start of this year.
Q. The forecast for Thursday, Friday is wind. Obviously it can get windy in Perth. Do you see any sort of advantage?
CURTIS LUCK: Yeah, of course. I've played in wind my whole life. As I said, I like to be creative on the golf course. That doesn't mean just hitting the same shot.
Wind, I with a classify as my friend, but I would say this course might be a different beast with 30‑mile‑an‑hour wind.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much for this time and best of luck this week.
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