Amateur Luke Clanton praises college golf, in no rush to turn pro

Luke Clanton is the latest player making noise for the next generation in men’s golf.

While a healthy amount of attention at last week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic was given to the PGA Tour debut of 15-year-old Miles Russell, he wasn’t the only amateur in the field on a sponsor’s invite. Clanton, a 20-year-old from Florida State, finished tied for 10th at 14-under par thanks to a third-round 65.

That was his second PGA Tour start; his first came at the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, where he also made the cut and tied for 41st.

Clanton commented Tuesday on the young talent on the rise ahead of his next start at the John Deere Classic, while also looking toward the future.

“My generation of golfers is going to be awesome,” Clanton said.

Ludvig Aberg of Sweden has already utilized the PGA Tour University pathway to gain an immediate PGA Tour card. Shortly after he made his debut in the summer of 2023, he won an event on both the DP World Tour and the PGA Tour. He played in the Ryder Cup and finished second at the Masters.

This year’s PGA Tour University beneficiary was Michael Thorbjornsen of Stanford. Then there are the rare cases like Nick Dunlap, who won The American Express in January to become the first amateur to win a PGA Tour event since Phil Mickelson in 1991.

A student at Alabama at the time, Dunlap soon turned pro in order to capitalize on PGA Tour membership.

Clanton told reporters Tuesday that his goal is neither to go pro early nor to finish atop next year’s PGA Tour University rankings.

“I want to win a national championship with the team,” Clanton said. “That’s been my No. 1 goal in college and we came pretty close this year. All of us back home are very driven this year to do it. Again, I think whatever happens happens. I’m still 20 years old. I’m still learning the ropes as much as I can. I’m going to do what I do.”

Clanton said there is NIL money in play for college golfers, but certainly nothing that would compare with the paycheck he would have earned last week if he had been a pro.

“I don’t really need a lot of money right now,” Clanton said. “I’m 20 years old, still at Florida State University. It’s enough to handle what we have here and to be able to travel.”

His future decision aside, Clanton talked up the current state of men’s college golf.

“I don’t think people realize how hard it is to win out there,” Clanton said. “I think every single week of college golf we have 20 guys amazing at golf that can play out here.

“I think we have great players coming up. I can name 20 right now that can win a PGA Tour event. It’s awesome to see. Winning in college feels pretty sweet because it’s hard. No doubt about it. I think even the younger ones, like Miles Russell, as well. I mean, the guy is 15 years old. Absurd for him to play his first PGA TOUR event like that. It’s awesome to see for sure.

–Field Level Media