Perth, Australia, is out of the way as places go, hidden away on the continent’s far western coast, but it is producing more than its fair share of young, promising pro golfers.
Two weeks ago, Perth’s own Hannah Green won her first LPGA tour event and first major title with her wire-to-wire KPMG Women’s PGA Championship victory at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska.
On Friday, fellow Perthian Curtis Luck’s 6-under-par 65 with a bogey on his final hole left him 9 under for 36 holes and five shots off leader Bryson DeChambeau heading to the weekend.
Green and Luck both are 22 years old, but Perth has a population of 2 million, so ...
“I’ve known Hannah since I was, like, 4,” Luck said. “I’ve known Hannah forever.”
They attended kindergarten, preprimary and primary school together and started playing together when they both took up golf at age 11. They trained three to four times a week for nearly as long as Luck can remember.
“She has always been a hard worker,“ said Luck, the 2016 U.S. Amateur champion and former Web.com tour player who finished tied for 46th at the 2017 Masters. “She’s probably the nicest person in the world. She’s an absolute star. Whatever comes her way, she deserves every bit of it.”
Luck and his parents were in Hartford, Conn., for the Travelers Championship two weeks ago and on television watched Green win a big trophy and more than 800,000 Australian dollars.
“We were all sitting in the hotel room in tears,” he said. “It was pretty crazy.”
Phil Mickelson knocked a wedge shot from 90 yards away to 3 feet of the flagstick on the first green and made the birdie putt Friday. But that wound up being the only highlight of another otherwise forgettable round. Mickelson is headed home early, finishing his 3M Open at 5 over. He missed the cut for the fourth time in his past six starts.
“I enjoyed my time here, it’s just a little shorter than I wanted,” Mickelson said. “I’m just not playing really good golf right now. Not hitting my short irons close enough, not putting very well. Driving it erratic. There’s a lot of areas I can improve on.”
The most of it
Friday was a good day for players who sneaked into the 3M Open.
Matt Every, the last player into the field, began Round 2 on the back nine and made six consecutive birdies on Nos. 12-17 on the way to a 7-under 64 and at 5 under par made the weekend. He was dialed in Friday; none of his birdie putts was longer than 15 feet.
“Just got some to fall, that’s all it was,” he said. “If my number is called, I’m going to come and play. I don’t typically like where you sweat a lot out there with all this humidity. I’d rather be comfortable. But there’s a long way to go, just have to keep at it.”
3M Open Monday qualifier Arjun Atwal got into the 2010 Wyndham Championship the same way, becoming the first Monday qualifier to win a PGA Tour event in 24 years.
He’s at 9 under par after Friday’s 68 and five shots off the lead. On Friday, he was asked if this week reminds him of then.
“It doesn’t feel anything like that, actually,” said Atwal, now 46. “I’m a lot older, broken-down body, haven’t really played golf since March, been battling a mid-back injury for some reason the last two months. So I’m just glad to be playing a tournament, you know?”
Birdie better than eagle?
There were six eagles on No. 18 on Friday, but one of the biggest roars on the finishing hole came after a resident crane picked up an early dinner.
With a group of players about to hit their approach shots over the water into the green, the bird first snacked on a small fish. It then carefully stalked another one before snagging it out of the water with crowd-pleasing speed and accuracy.
The large pond is rife with aquatic wildlife; the 3M Championship used to host a weekend fishing tournament as part of its Champions Tour presence here.