New South Welshman Nick Flanagan triumphs at US Amateur
BY Bruce Young | US Mens Amateur Tour | 2003 US Amateur Championship | Wrap | 25 Aug 2003
In what could be described as one of Australian golf’s greatest moments, 19-year-old New South Welshman, Nick Flanagan, has taken out the 2003 US Amateur Championship when he accounted for 18-year-old American sensation Casey Wittenberg in the 36-hole final.
It is the first time in nearly 100 years that an Australian has won this coveted championship and for Flanagan it virtually assures him of a launching pad to professional golf when he so chooses. He will no doubt wait to take advantage of the invitations he will receive to the US Open, the US Masters and the British Open next year at least, but you can almost hear the stampede of management companies rushing to get a position in the Flanagan queue.
Flanagan was never behind in the match after wining the first two holes of the day. Those were won with bogeys as Wittenberg, it would seem, struggled with early nerves. Wittenberg dragged it back to be all square at the sixth but by the time they had reached the seventeenth of the morning round, Flanagan was four up and took that lead to lunch, one hole later. Wittenberg won two holes early in the afternoon to reduce the deficit to two holes but Flanagan won the fifth and was three up again.
The match was delicately poised throughout the afternoon back nine as even though Flanagan had a two up lead as they reached the tenth and managed to maintain it through until the fifteenth which he lost, it was very much a match in the balance.
Both players bogied the par three 16th, then parred the 17th for the difference to be one playing the last. Wittenberg then won the thirty sixth hole with a par and the match was headed for a playoff. At the first extra hole Flanagan made par and won the greatest event in amateur golf.
Once again the scoring had not been good but that was hardly relevant when such a title was on the line.
Flanagan, who started playing competitive golf only five years ago, looks to have the golfing world at his feet. The learning curve he has experienced these past few months is on a steep rise and compared to his younger opponent he was the least experienced of the two. He handled what was an occasion far removed from his previous significant wins in events such as the New Zealand under 19 Championship, the 2003 Tasmanian Open and more recently the North West Amateur in the United States, with significant poise.