Lukas Michel putted well throughout the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship.
His last 3-foot putt was one of the toughest.
Michel, a 25-year-old from Melbourne, Australia, defeated Joseph Deraney of Tupelo, Mississippi, 2 and 1, in the 36-hole final at the Colorado Golf Club in Parker to win the Robert T. Jones Memorial trophy as he became the first international golfer to capture the Mid-Am.
The tournament was the national championship for players 25 years and older and with the win, Michel earned an exemption into the 2020 U.S. Open, which is scheduled for June 18-21 at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York.
Michel, who was 3-down twice during the final match, got the lead with a 12-foot birdie putt on the 33rd hole and another birdie on the 34th hole put him 2-up.
He secured the title on the 35th hole, which included an awkward ending.
Deraney needed a birdie and when his putt didn’t fall, he took his hat off and went up to congratulate Michel but didn’t realize that the Aussie still had to make a 3-foot par putt to claim the title despite the premature applause from the gallery.
“My tee shot landed within 3 feet but Joe had an opportunity to win the hole, which he didn’t make,” Michel said. “He came up to me and shook my hand and then said sorry, I thought it was closer.
“A 3-footer to win was probably the most daring putt of my life. It was nerve-racking, obviously. But I holed it. Just all week I felt really relaxed especially on the greens. My putting has been great. So when I got closer to the hole, the more confident I got.”
Deraney, who limped along over the last couple holes because of a blister on one of his toes, didn’t have any excuse for hitting into bushes a few times during the final scheduled 18 holes despite having a 1-up lead heading after the initial morning 18 holes.
“He played great and putted probably the best I’ve ever seen over the course of, what, 35 holes,” said Deraney. “I just lost because he beat me.”
The tournament started with two rounds of stroke play at Common Ground golf course in Aurora and the Colorado Golf Club. All four rounds of match play action were at the Colorado Golf Club.
Nick Nosewicz, playing on his birthday, eagled the 18th hole at Common Ground on Sept.15 to qualify for the match play with a 146 two-round, stroke play total. Ryan Axlund of Englewood had a 145 stroke play total and was the third golfer of the 12 local entries to make it into the match play rounds.
Stephen Powers, of Denver, who advanced to match play after a stroke play playoff, lost in the round of 64.
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