Patrick Cantlay, the world’s No. 1-ranked amateur golfer, announced Tuesday that he is turning pro at this week’s Travelers Championship, the PGA Tour event at Cromwell, Conn.
The tournament seems a fitting beginning as a pro for the two-time All-American from UCLA, as Cantlay shot the lowest round by an amateur in PGA Tour history in last year’s Travelers, a course-record 10-under 60 in Round 2.
"I feel like it's time for me to play as a pro," Cantlay said during a news conference at the Travelers. "I think it's best for my golf game, and that's just what my — when I talked it over with my mom and my dad and (swing coach) Jamie Mulligan, that's just what we thought would be best for me and my game right now."
Cantlay, 20, recorded four top-25 finishes in eight starts on tour as an amateur. Among his accomplishments while playing with the world’s best: low amateur at the 2011 US Open (t-21st) and the 2012 Masters (t-47th). He tied for 41st at last week’s US Open at The Olympic Club in San Francisco.
His average of 69.26 in his limited time on tour in 2011 would have ranked third on the PGA Tour. He also would have ranked in the top 35 in greens in regulation and had a driving average of more than 290 yards.
According to pgatour.com, Cantlay has up to seven sponsor exemptions and will use one in each of the next three weeks. There are a variety of ways in which Cantlay can earn his tour card for 2013-14 without having to go through qualifying school.
"For me, it was a combination of being comfortable with being a professional and taking it to the next level and timing," Cantlay said. "I think this timing makes sense for me, being able to start somewhere where I'm comfortable and I have good memories. And I feel ready and comfortable with being a pro and trying to be as good as I can be."
Cantlay signed with Tiger Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg.