Patrick Cantlay to leave UCLA; will make professional debut this week

Patrick Cantlay, who finished in a tie for 41st place at the U.S. Open last week, has decided to turn pro after two stellar seasons at UCLA. (Courtesy UCLA Communications)

UCLA standout and the world’s top-ranked amateur Patrick Cantlay on Tuesday announced his decision to forgo his junior and senior years of collegiate play in favor of turning professional.

“I have a tremendous passion and respect for the game of golf and can’t wait for the challenge of taking my game to the next level,” said Cantlay.

Cantlay, 20, finished 11-over par in a tie for 41st place at the U.S. Open in San Francisco on Sunday with rounds of 76-72-71-72. He has competed in eight PGA Tour events up to this point, finishing in the top-25 in four of them.

In 2011, Cantlay received the Mark H. McCormack Medal given annually to the world’s top amateur. He raised eyebrows at last year’s U.S. Open when he finished as the low amateur in a tie for 21st and then again when he carded a course-record 60 at the 2011 Travelers Championship.

Last month, he became the first UCLA golfer to win the coveted Ben Hogan Award, given to the nation’s best collegiate golfer. In 2011, in addition to consensus All-America honors, he earned the Jack Nicklaus Award, the Phil Mickelson Award, GolfWeek’s Player of the Year, the Haskins Award and the McCormack Medal. He was also selected the 2011 Pac-10 Golfer of the Year and Freshman of the Year, in addition to earning First Team All-Pac-10 honors.

“It has been a great two years having Patrick as part of the UCLA golf team,” said Head Coach Derek Freeman. “He has represented our golf program in the highest manner and I feel privileged to have coached him during his time here. To be part of the maturing and growth process that Patrick has experienced has been extremely rewarding. His game has continued to improve during his time at UCLA and is now at an impressively professional level.”

Cantlay leaves UCLA with impressive numbers. He played 65 career collegiate rounds in 35-under par, something no UCLA golfer has ever accomplished. His career scoring average of 70.7 and his percentage of rounds under par (53.8) are also UCLA records. He owns two of the top four single-season scoring marks in UCLA history: 70.4 in 2011 (1st) and 71.1 in 2012 (4th). In 2011, he won the GolfStat Cup with an adjusted stroke average of 70.49.

Cantlay will compete as a professional for the first time at this week’s Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Connecticut.

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