Nick Flanagan talks career and golf at US Amateur
BY iseekgolf.com | US Mens Amateur Tour | 2003 US Amateur Championship | Round Four | 23 Aug 2003
An interview with Nick Flanagan following his berth in the US Amateur semi-finals
Craig Smith: Nick, obviously you’ve had a heck of a summer coming over here from Australia since June, playing some golf, qualifying for the U.S. Amateur and here you are a semi-finalist, how does that sound?
Nick Flanagan: It’s definitely far beyond where I thought I would be. To be here right now is a big thrill. That’s for sure.
Craig Smith: You have sort of done it in dramatic fashion but while we’re watching Bill Haas and some of the other Walker Cuppers, here comes Nick Flanagan and we don’t know too much about you. Tell us a little about you.
Nick Flanagan: What do you want to know?
Craig Smith: What have you been doing on the golf scene, plans, school travels, since you been over since June, wash and dry probably, getting tired of wearing the same shirts, all kinds of travel excitement. Learning a little bit about the United States.
Nick Flanagan: Pretty sick of living out of a suitcase, that’s for sure. But I’ve been traveling with two other guys and sometimes two or three other Australians. We hook up with and get hotel rooms and we get two beds for five guys. So it’s been pretty cramped. We have been getting housed at most of the tournaments which is great. I started playing golf when I was about 14. Got into it because of watching Tiger play the ’97 Masters, like a lot of kids these days. Yeah, I progressed a lot quicker than I thought it would. To be in the semi finals of the U.S. Amateur is just so far beyond where I thought I would be at 19 years old.
Q. When did you decide to come over to the United States and play the summer and what was the thought process behind it?
Nick Flanagan: I decided to come over, probably it would have been this time last year we started organizing the trip. And a lot of the better amateurs from back home that I looked up to before I came over here did this trip a couple of years. So I knew most of the top tournaments to play. And we just wanted to — the three guys that came over, we just wanted some better competition. Not that competition isn’t good back home, it’s pretty tough playing there. Over here it’s the best amateurs in the world, best courses in the world, and it’s just a different level. We don’t have any of this kind of stuff back home. This is completely new to me.
Q. Who did you come over with?
Nick Flanagan: I came over with Ben Bunny and Luke Kickmont, two Victorian guys. Ben qualified, but he missed the match play and Luke didn’t qualify.
Craig Smith: So what are they doing now? Are they following you, are they watching, supporting, carrying your bag, not wanting to watch?
Nick Flanagan: No, we are all pretty game to go home. So Luke when he missed qualifying on the 10th, at Cincinnati, he went home the day after. And Ben missed after his 64 and I think he went home two days after he finished as well.
Q. What was your first tournament this summer?
Nick Flanagan: The Northeast Amateur.
Craig Smith: So what started out as a bunch of guys is down to Nick Flanagan on his own.
Nick Flanagan: Yeah. That’s pretty much it. I’ve got some family friends, Gary, the guy caddieing for me, Gary Whitehouse and Lynn Whitehouse, they’re over here, which is good because it gives me somebody to talk to back in the motel room. I don’t have to sit in my room and go insane. So they have been a big help so far.
Q. What tournaments have you played in this summer? What was the tour, what did it involve?
Nick Flanagan: We picked out tournaments mainly on the point rankings of them. But one of the guys from the west coast Fred Saulman had been e-mailing Luke for a year or so trying to get some Aussies to play in his tournaments and he said he would help us out with whatever. So we went over to the west coast and played, after Northeast we played the Scratch Players, which was in Modesto. And played Sahalee Players Championship. He got us into that. He got us a game at Cyprus Point which was really good.
Q. What did you happen to shoot at Cyprus Point?
Nick Flanagan: I don’t know. I didn’t score out there. I was just out there to have a look. Then we played the Pacific Northwest, straight over to Porter Cup, Western, qualifying and then here.
Q. Will tomorrow’s semi-final be on TV back home?
Nick Flanagan: I’m not too sure. We get ESPN, but I’m not too sure if it’s going to be on TV back home. I wouldn’t mind getting a copy of the tape if anybody can help me out with it. But, yeah, because I’m sure my parents would like to see it back home because I don’t think anybody realizes back home how big this tournament is. We know it’s a big tournament, but I don’t think they realize how much goes into it and, I mean, these media tents and interviews and stuff like that, I don’t think they realize how big it is.
Craig Smith: Tell me how you’re getting from point to point; are you driving some, flying some? And then follow it up with — we do some crazy things here in the United States, what’s the most fun thing?
Nick Flanagan: The other side of the road. Drive on the wrong side of the road. That’s the hardest thing. I’ve only driven probably at one tournament because when I first got over here I didn’t know what I was doing. I’ve almost been collected crossing the road because I’m looking the wrong way to start off with. But, yeah, we have only had to hire about two cars and we drove — we had a week off for Scratch Players and in between Northeast and Scratch Players we drove to Vegas. So I went down there and stayed there for three or four nights.
Q. What did you do there?
Nick Flanagan: Not much. It was too hot to go outside. So we stayed inside for most of it. Other than that we have just been flying non-stop. Pretty sick of airports. Pretty happy if I never had to see one again. But it squeaks by.
Q. It doesn’t slow up much for you after that.
Nick Flanagan: No, I thought I might get a week’s break if I didn’t qualify for this. Well, I would have, but I’ve qualified for this and gone this far. And I get home on the 27th and I have to go away with an Australian team, four man team to Port Douglas, which is at the top of Australia for a week and play the Asia Pacific. And then I get back from there for a week and then I got to play our Interstate Series, which is 6 days of 36 holes in a row. I’m looking forward to getting home. I’m not looking forward to that, I’m going to be pretty tired, in bed a month, I think.
Q. 6 days, 36 holes a day?
Nick Flanagan: Yeah, we have our Australian foursomes, which is 36 holes. And then the next day we have a practice round at the course we’re playing, which is only 18. And then we go five in a row of 36. It’s foursomes in the morning and singles in the afternoon. So it’s pretty grueling.
Q. Nick, where is your home located in Australia?
Nick Flanagan: I live on Lake Macquarie in Newcastle, two hours north of Sydney on the east coast.
Q. Great area.
Nick Flanagan: Yeah, it’s a great spot.
Q. Did you think about ever coming to the States and playing collegiate golf?
Nick Flanagan: I did about two years ago when I got a package from Minnesota. And at that age coming from Australia and getting a package from a college over here, I was pretty excited about it. And I did think about it. But a year and a half later and two years later I got on our squad, which — and they send us around Australia playing tournaments. So unless you want to get any more, like a degree or go any more with your academics, and I’m just too lazy to come over here and do schooling any more.
Q. Do you want to turn pro?
Nick Flanagan: Eventually, yeah. I’m not in any rush at the moment. I just want to play as many big tournaments as I can in the next couple of years and a lot of pro tournaments, hopefully, and just try and get used to the crowds and the pressure that these guys have. Because if somebody asks me to turn pro now I couldn’t, I don’t think I could cope with the pressure at the moment. Playing in front of as many people as are out there today, that’s completely unaccustomed for anyone in Australia. We just don’t get the crowds.
Q. Those crowds that are here, do they affect your thinking or what?
Nick Flanagan: I thought they would, but this golf course makes you concentrate so hard that you really know they’re there, but you don’t notice. And the most people I’ve ever played in front of before was probably maybe a hundred people before I came over here. And to play in front of thousands of people like there was out there today, that’s different. It’s a good atmosphere, that’s for sure.
Craig Smith: How much has your game improved maybe in the last, well, over the summer? Can you see your game improving.
Nick Flanagan: From the start of this year it’s improved a lot in the first six months. In the National Trials back home. I won the National Trial and finished high up in the last three or four. So it doesn’t feel like I’m actually swinging any better or hitting the ball any better, I just seem to be able to get the scores. And, yeah, it doesn’t feel like I’m progressing much, but I just seem to be shooting better scores every now and then. In the bigger tournaments I’m nowhere near as nervous as I used to be. So I think that’s pretty much just it.
Q. Is there one or two holes out there, say tomorrow now, you’re down to four now, you know this is the big one. Is there one or two holes out there where you can be more aggressive and feel that you have got a chance for a birdie?
Nick Flanagan: Not really. I don’t think there’s a hole on the course that you could stand up on and think, oh, you can make birdie here pretty easy or you can get a good chance for birdie. The par-5s are probably the only birdie holes out there. And they’re tough enough as it is. You got to hit a good drive, a good second and you got to on those greens, you got to leave it in a good spot. I haven’t been leaving it below the hole enough. I’ve been leaving it above the hole and having to be very tentative over putts. I think the hardest hole out there is probably 17. Because of the green. Unless you hit a driver straight at it and perfect, like Jerry did this afternoon, it’s a tough hole.
Q. Oh did the same thing yesterday.
Nick Flanagan: Yeah, I seen that shot.
Q. He drove the green.
Nick Flanagan: Yeah, but he’s been playing well. He’s beat some very good players. So I’m sure it’s going to be pretty tough tomorrow.
Q. What’s the been the best part of your summer experience?
Nick Flanagan: Best part, this is, this takes it by a long way. Winning the Pacific Northwest was good. It wasn’t a massive tournament, but to play two rounds qualifying and then to go through 64 and get a win, that was a big confidence builder coming into the big tournaments that I had to play. But the best thing about it is just playing on the courses over here. We got to play Sahalee, Cyprus Point, and this course. Some of the best golf courses in the world.
Craig Smith: Picked up a favorite food yet?
Nick Flanagan: No. I’m not a big fan of food over here. It’s a bit greasy for my liking. Some of it is really good, but I’m just used to home, I think.
Craig Smith: Thank you very much.
Source – ASAP Sports