CURTIS LUCK | 2017 EMIRATES AUSTRALIAN OPEN | PREVIEW – 21 NOV 2017
KATHIE SHEARER: Curtis, it’s great to see you. It’s been a good year, 11 starts, conditional on the Web.com.
CURTIS LUCK: Yep.
KATHIE SHEARER: Was it all you hoped or there a lot left out there, how do you feel?
CURTIS LUCK: This year was interesting, very different year to my last what, four as an amateur. Obviously, I started off playing on the European Tour early this year in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Malaysia, down in Perth, which was great fun and great experience, and then heading over to the US later in February, that was obviously, for me, the really big goal was to achieve some cool things over there. It definitely was all everyone made it out to be. It was great fun, I’ve learnt a tonne.
My golf probably wasn’t quite as good as it was last year, but that’s all part of it. I’m feeling really good though now, I’ve spent the last five weeks at home getting ready, so hopefully I’ll be ready to go next year, mainly for the 2018 Web.com season.
KATHIE SHEARER: In a couple of weeks you’re going back to the qualifying to try and improve your place?
CURTIS LUCK: Yes, so I’m going back to final stage Q School, Sunday night of the Aus PGA for the following week. At the moment I’ve got so many starts before the reshuffle and I can only go to the final stage and improve it, I can’t come out with anything worse than what I’ve already got, so I may as well go give it a crack and yeah, seal a few more starts away at the early part of next season.
KATHIE SHEARER: Have you based yourself already in the States?
CURTIS LUCK: Yes, me and Ryan Ruffels, a good friend that I grew up playing with, have moved into, we’re renting a house in Orlando together and we practice together, which I think has been great for the both of us. He’s down playing Latin America I think next week, which will kind of determine what next year looks like for him, so hopefully he has a good one and we might be in the same circumstance playing Web.com next year.
KATHIE SHEARER: Your game is in great shape for this course, this Tournament?
CURTIS LUCK: Yes, it’s feeling really good. Five weeks at home always, I mean, the middle of this year I came home for two weeks, because I needed to, I needed a bit of a rest, just to recharge the batteries really, and now that I’ve had five weeks back home, up until till now, it’s just been great, I’ve been able to obviously be at home, steal some food off my parents, get to see my coach and friends and all that obviously contributes to feeling good this week and yeah, I’m rarin’to go.
KATHIE SHEARER: After you’ve gone back to the final stage of qualifying, after that week would you come home for Christmas and New Year and then start fresh or what’s the plan?
CURTIS LUCK: Yeah, that’s the plan. I don’t fancy the idea of sitting at a table by myself in Orlando on Christmas, so, I’m going to come home and spend it back with family and then head back for the start of next season.
Q. Your caddy for the week is sitting in the back of the room.
CURTIS LUCK: Yeah.
Q. How is he going so far, and does he make you look at the golf course a little differently with all of his knowledge about golf courses and everything like that?
CURTIS LUCK: Yeah, Clayts has been great so far. Obviously, I’ve known Clayts probably for a good part of four years I’d say now, and it was interesting, when I was at home the last couple of weeks I was trying to figure out who I’d have caddy and I thought, I know Clayts is usually around this event and he’s obviously extremely funny to have on the bag out there, so I thought who better than the man himself. He said yes thankfully, it’s like getting married. We’ve had a lot of fun the last couple of days and I’m really excited to get out there Thursday with him.
He has plenty to contribute, obviously being a good player himself, it’s great and it’s just good fun.
Q. Curtis, can you tell us about the mindset of being an elite amateur and then going into a season where you’re playing for your cheque every week and playing for your position? What was that experience like?
CURTIS LUCK: Yeah, that is definitely interesting. I think the first week as an actual professional out there was a big eye opener for me. I played – where was I – San Antonio I actually played pretty good, I missed the cut by 1 and the scores ended up being that 1 or top 20 weren’t too far from where the cut was. I think the cut was even, I shot 1-over. I think if you had 4-under the top 20 and you’ve walked out of the week with potentially 60, 70, $80,000, so to me, just to see that side of the game, especially out on the PGA Tour, it’s a bit different, but you’re two good rounds away on the weekend from obviously making a really good cheque. That was definitely a big eye opener and then from there I made my first cut at the next event as a professional and I guess the monkey was off the back and could start doing it and feeling comfortable.
Q. How does that affect you mentally though?
CURTIS LUCK: To be honest, I was very, very fortunate towards the end of last year with the starts I got. Obviously, as an amateur I’m not collecting the purses, but I know roughly where I’m finishing, what sort of money I could be earning, so the whole idea that I was able to play European Tour events, Aussie Open, Aussie PGA last year, Macau, all those events sort of gave me a good idea of where I was at, so that sort of prepared me for turning pro and what was to come, I guess.
Q. Curtis, you mentioned Ryan Ruffels, I just want to ask you what you think the main issues for a young pro are to kind of get better when you start, what are the main issues that you see yourself?
CURTIS LUCK: You know what, I think, obviously the question is directed slightly to Ryan, it’s just one of those things, golf’s a sport where sometimes you don’t have to do a whole to wrong and it looks bad from the outside. I spend so much time with him that I can honestly say there’s not much going wrong. I can play with him a week off at Isleworth and by the end of the week I don’t want to play him for money anymore, because he’s just taking my cash.
It’s interesting travelling as, I guess, a young individual early. He’s down in Latin America, he’s also been juggling starts on the US PGA Tour, that’s, I think another interesting thing that he’s been dealing with. Maybe potentially he could put a bit more focus into one or the other, might be good for him this season.
I think it’s just the whole getting around a new lifestyle, travelling so much, being away from home and sort of, in a sense, by yourself, takes time to get your head around.
Q. From your point of view, what are the big issues for you do you think to get better?
CURTIS LUCK: This year and it looks like potentially next year, my schedules aren’t too set, so the tough thing I found this year, I would feel like I had a bit of a break where I could work on the things I knew I needed to, and I’d get back to Orlando ready to start that process, and I’d be on the phone and back on a plane, because a start had come up somewhere else, which obviously has been so different to my last four years, where you sit down, almost years in advance, and know exactly what you want to play in as an amateur.
That was really interesting to get my head around and then obviously too, not being at home, I noticed whilst I was out there midway through in June or July that I really needed to get back and, so I bit the bullet, and just flew back straight from Tennessee and it made a big difference, just to be home for nine days and head back over there with a with a fresh mindset ready to go. So, next year I would love to get back home probably more than I did this year.
Q. Curtis, is the key for you to improving establishing a better routine, something that you can slot into and work on your game?
CURTIS LUCK: I think so. As I said, unfortunately, just with the way my year sort of ended up panning out, next year is still going to be a little bit iffy on how the schedule is, because it will evolve as I play. If I play well, I might be able to take a few weeks off here and there, but if I don’t, I’ll probably be playing every week I can.
But, if it was up to me, yes, scheduling I think is absolutely crucial to have blocks where you can focus on development. I’m still young, I still know there are plenty of things I can improve on, so yeah, to have those block periods where you can go away, do that, come back and obviously apply them is much nicer than just having weeks off at a time, where you sort of just shove things under the rug and get ready for the next event.
Q. What specifically do you feel like you need to improve on to get better results next year?
CURTIS LUCK: Everything. I’m a bit of a realist, I think everything can always get better, whether it’s off course, on course, I think everything still needs work. As I said, I’m young, yeah, everything.
Q. The scheduling, you mentioned there’s uncertainty there, is that a distraction for you going into an event like this, thinking ahead and if there is uncertainty of where you’re going to be playing, what you’re going to be doing?
CURTIS LUCK: It probably was earlier this season. I know I played a few events this season where I was on the edge of knowing if I was playing the next week or not, and so, I’d be out playing my tournament round and I would know that there was potentially a phone call waiting for me when I finished to say you’ve got to fly out tomorrow to play this.
I know that got to me a little bit at Memorial this year. Memorial finished, I played the US Open qualifying in Columbus as well, the same dates, Monday, 36 holes, then got a call Monday afternoon saying you’re playing in Tennessee this week. So, I flew Tuesday, didn’t get a practice round, rocked up and played Thursday. I can say it probably got to me that week.
This week, no, as my whole year this year has kind of been a bit that way, I think I’m starting to get my head around it, so yeah, I’m just obviously excited to get underway this week and get the next few events in my schedule underway as well.
Q. Curtis, you’re a pretty chilled sort of a cat, this time last year, I don’t know if you can remember it, but it was a circus going on around you at the time, wasn’t it? Everything was happening – Masters, Asian Am, all your pro starts, your touring to Dubai and everything and yet, you still came out here and nearly won this Tournament, put yourself right in the mix and played really well with the big names. Can you do that again this year and will it be easier this year?
CURTIS LUCK: I hope so. Will it be easier, obviously, having one under my belt, I hope I feel a little bit more comfortable out here, but, I’ve yet again had a great year of playing really great events, so I should be ready to go and hopefully my game keeps going in the direction it feels it is this week and I can post some low numbers.
Q. I guess you looked so chilled last year, but you must have been like a duck, we couldn’t see what was going on?
CURTIS LUCK: I was playing with Mr Ogilvy, who’s standing up the back, I was very nervous, but he said some pretty kind things on the first tee which got me feeling a bit more comfortable, and playing with Spieth, also a really nice guy, they settled me into the groove pretty quickly out there. So yeah, I’m just really excited to get this week underway, yeah.
Q. Not that your play didn’t belong, but do you feel you belong personally now at that level?
CURTIS LUCK: Yeah, I guess I do. Yeah, put it this way, I’m raring to try and get back out on the PGA Tour for hopefully the ’19 season, if I have a good year on Web next year, so, I guess that would mean that I’m feeling ready.
Q. Curtis, you’ve obviously lost the man bun, can you give us a quick sneak peek under the hat?
CURTIS LUCK: Yep. So, just was sick of maintenance, didn’t want to do it, didn’t want to do it before the WA Open because I knew I would have to answer a lot of questions, so I did it the day after, and if I make a bogey on the first I’ve got a clip-on in my bag ready to go. No, I’m kidding.