NICK Flanagan remembers his stunning upset win at the US Amatuer Championships as though it was yesterday.
It has been more than 15 years since the Novocastrian beat American Casey Wittenberg in a sudden-death play-off at Oakmont in Pennsylvania in 2003.
The win, which created headlines around the world, was the launching pad for Flanagan’s professional career.
It was also the last time the now 34-year-old can recall playing competition matchplay.
The Texas-based former Belmont junior hopes that changes at the $1.6 million World Super Six tournament in Perth, starting Thursday.
Flanagan is among five Hunter based and bred players alongside last year’s runner-up James Nitties, Andrew Dodt, Cal O’Reilly and Dylan Perry teeing up in the tri-sanctioned event at Lake Karrinyup Country Club. After 54 holes of traditional strokeplay, the top 24 progress to a series of six-hole, man-to-man shootouts.
“I would love to get into the matchplay,” Flanagan said. “I haven’t played matchplay since my US amateur win. It has been a long time. I enjoy that format. You can go for broke. You can’t leave anything behind especially when it is just six holes. It would be nice to get in there and get amongst it.”
Flanagan arrived in Perth on Monday after a confidence-boosting top-10 finish at the $1.5 million Victrorian Open on Sunday.
The right-hander led for two rounds before, like many, he struggled in the cyclonic conditions on Saturday. He bounced back with a final-round 69 to be at 13 under, five strokes behind winner David Law.
He finished with three straight birdies on Sunday but was left to rue two double bogeys.
“I played pretty solid and didn’t let anything get to me,” Flanagan said. “Birdying the last three holes was great, but a couple of loose shots here and there really cost me. If I get rid of those two holes, I was looking pretty good. The mental part of my game was really good this week, my game was probably just a little off from where I have had it and where I would like it. That’s golf. If I can keep it straight and narrow between the ears, hopefully the rest of the year keeps moving in the right direction.”
Flanangan will play in Perth, then the Queensland PGA, New Zealand Open and New Zealand PGA before returning to San Antonio.
* Charlestwon ace Blake Windred has played some fantastic golf over the past three months. The 21-year-old was the leading amateur at the NSW, Queensland and Victorian opens to go with a title defence in the Avondale Medal and local wins in the District Championships and WE Alexander Open.
Of his super rounds, Windred rated his three-under 69 in the third round of the Vic Open on Saturday as the pick.
On a day when most of the professionals dropped shots, Windred held it together in gale-force winds.
“It was up there with one of the best rounds in my life,” he said. “It looked like doomsday going out there. It was the most brutal weather on such a hard course.”
But the highlight for Windred came in the fourth round.
“I made a good birdie putt and I saw on the big screen that it was being replayed on TV. I thought ‘how good is this’,” he said. “It was my first co-scantioned European event and we had a fair few people following us. That is why you work hard, to perform in front of people.”
* Shortland Waters has a week of events, starting February 24, to celebrate the opening of the club’s new holes.
There are eight new holes in the restructure and the course will return to a par 71 over 5817 metres.
All visitors playing in competitions will pay members rates of $18 for each individual event, with the highlight of the week a $1000 four-person Ambrose event on Friday, February 29 which is $30 per player which includes lunch.
The week begins with a mixed fourball tournament which incorporates the revived Naggers Cup.
Tuesday is the ladies invitation day and Wednesday the regular men’s invitation stableford competition, with another 18-hole medley stableford event on the Thursday and the $1000 Ambrose on the Friday.
Tee times can be booked on 49558169.
* Defending champions Waratah and Toronto remain unbeaten after the second round of the A-Grade pennants at Merewether on Sunday.
Waratahs made a clean sweep of the match against Pacific Dunes with Justin Ely and teenager Caleb Bromley leading the way.
Toronto also made light work of Belmont, winning 6-2, with Dave Alexander and Josh Greenwood the star perfomers.
Luke Ferrier and Craig Jones helped steer Merewether to a comfortable 7-1 win over Charlestown,
* The Hunter contingent made strong starts to the Sydney Metropolitan Pennants competition.
Pickin brothers Bryce and Jye Pickin were strong winners in Avondale’s victory over Pennants Hill.
Corey Lamb (Concord) beat NSW junior teammate Jordan Garner (Castle Hill) and Hayden Gulliver (Moore Park) accounted for State representative Harrison Crowe (St Michaels).