During his practice round at Hurricane Creek Country Club in Anna, Texas, Guthrie High School’s Luke Morgan devised a game plan with his uncle and caddie, Sean Morgan. They knew if Luke was going to win the Dallas-Fort Worth area qualifier for the United States Junior Amateur Championship next month, he’d have to shoot three or four under to give himself a chance.
“Once I got a spot in the qualifier, with my uncle on the bag, I knew we wouldn’t make any dumb mistakes out there,” Morgan said. “We knew there was a good chance of me shooting a low number just because I was feeling good and had been playing well. During the practice round, we set a game plan. We didn’t think anyone would shoot a 65 but we knew it would have to be three or four under to get in.”
Luke shot a 68, four-under-par, to finish tied for first place, cementing himself a spot in the 72nd U.S. Junior Amateur Championship at the Inverness Club in Ohio on July 15th through the 20th.
The top-four finishers qualify for a spot in the championship. Six different golfers finished one stroke behind Morgan’s 68. He was the only player from Oklahoma to qualify.
With the tournament being split into two waves—a morning group and an afternoon group—Morgan was one of the first golfers on the course. He wasted no time in setting the pace atop the leaderboard. Through his first nine holes, Morgan was a bogey-free, three-under. He moved to four-under before registering his first and only bogey of the day.
“It was my only bogey of the day, but from where I was after I duffed my tee shot, it was actually a pretty solid bogey,” Morgan said.
Three holes later, Morgan bounced back with a birdie on a Par 3 after putting his tee shot to five feet. The birdie recaptured the momentum, allowing him to cruise down the stretch.
When looking back at the round, Morgan said the day was relatively easy.
“It was just really easy and kind of simple,” Morgan said. “I just hit a bunch of greens and made a few puts. I didn’t put a bunch of shots close, I just hit the greens and had easy puts and made a couple of them.”
Morgan’s round swung on the Par 5’s and with his short game. He birdied three out of the four Par 5’s and out of the three greens hi missed on the day, he chipped in twice to save par.
“Anytime I was in trouble, I was able to save it,” Morgan said. “I count the bogey as a save, too, because that could’ve easily been a double bogey. It was just an overall consistent round. It was really easy and stress-free and that’s kind of when I play my best.”
While the round itself was stress-free, the wait afterward was anything but. Since he was in the first group of the day, Morgan had to wait until the afternoon session concluded to see where his score stacked up against the remaining players.
“I liked that I got to go out first and kind of be the guy to set the number and made everyone have to come and catch me,” I’m glad I didn’t have to know a number in the back of my mind the whole round, I kind of just got to go play. But I had to kill about four and a half hours before I actually knew I qualified. It was pretty rough. It was a long wait.”
The wait proved to be worth it for Morgan. With his name called atop the leaderboard, his dream of playing in the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship became a reality.
“Once we were all sitting there and they read off my name, it all kind of set in,” Morgan said. “It was kind of like, ‘oh my gosh, I’m actually going to go and compete in this thing.’ This is as big as it gets in junior golf.”
Waiting at home for the news was his mother, Tashia Cheves. Once Morgan got the news, he pulled out his phone and called his mom.
“When he called me all he said was, ‘mom what are you doing July 15-20? Want to go to Ohio with me and watch me play in the US Junior Amateur?’” Cheves said. “I cried real, ugly tears. We really are all so proud of him, because we know how hard he has worked.”
Morgan will now head to Ohio to play in a tournament that has seen the best golfers in the world play in before. Players like Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, David Duval, and Hunter Mahan to name a few. The five-day tournament will be televised on The Golf Channel.
“I’ve never seen this course in Ohio and I know I am playing against the best kids, but I’m obviously going there on a mission,” Morgan said. “I know that me and my uncle Sean can accomplish it if we play our game and don’t try to press or anything like that. He’s obviously going to be on the bag again for me. We are a team, it’s not just me out there.”
Morgan will now have a little under a month to prepare for the biggest tournament of his young career. He’s confident in his abilities and says that this is the best he has ever been playing in his life.
“I would say I’m probably playing my best right now just because it’s been so consistent,” Morgan said. “I’ve been able to work the ball both ways, I’m getting up and down from everywhere and I’ve been rock solid from inside about six or seven feet-those kind of momentum saving putts. That’s what’s been keeping my rounds going. I’d say I’m probably playing the best I’ve ever played.”