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Aussie Michel rallies for U.S. Mid-Am title, Masters berth

Lukas Michel

Australian Lukas Michel rallied to win the U.S. Mid-Amateur final, 2 and 1, to punch his ticket to next year's Masters and U.S. Open.

The 25-year-old from Melbourne trailed Joe Deraney for much of the 36-hole final at Colorado Golf Club in Parker, Colo., and Deraney held a 1-up advantage with just nine holes to play. But from there Michel turned the table, closing with birdies on four of his final eight holes. That included a birdie on No. 15, which gave him his first lead in 29 holes, and another on No. 16 to push his opponent to the brink.

Deraney, a 36-year-old stay-at-home dad from Tupelo, Miss., was 3-up after 23 holes but won only one hole the rest of the way.

Michel becomes the first international champion in the 39-year-old history of the U.S. Mid-Amateur, and he joins U.S. Women's Amateur champ Gabi Ruffels as Australians to win USGA events this summer. Michel's victory means he'll play in two majors next year, with a likely invite to his first Masters along with a spot in the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, and will be exempt into the Mid-Amateur for the next 10 years.

The U.S. Mid-Amateur is open to all amateurs ages 25 and older who have a USGA handicap index of 3.4 or lower. Past champions include Jay Sigel, David Eger, Trip Kuehne, Nathan Smith (four times) and Stewart Hagestad.