Friday, June 17, 2011

College freshman fires incredible second-round 67 at U.S. Open

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If a 22-year-old Northern Irishman hadn't stolen the show on Friday, there's a good chance Patrick Cantlay's remarkable second round would have been the talk of this year's U.S. Open.

But with Rory McIlroy putting on a major championship masterclass, Cantlay's 4-under 67 -- the fourth best round by an amateur in U.S. Open history -- was relegated to side story status. However, that doesn't mean we should discount what the UCLA freshman did at Congressional, double-bogeying his sixth hole of the day before reeling off six birdies and not a single bogey over the final 14 holes to finish at even-par after two rounds.

It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks for Cantlay, who came within one shot of winning the NCAA individual title, won the GCAA National Player of the Year award, helped the U.S. team win the Palmer Cup and, finally, qualified for the U.S. Open.

Clearly, Cantlay is going places with one of the best amateur games in the world. But like Oklahoma State's Peter Uihlein, he has no intention of pulling a Rickie Fowler and leaving after his freshman year. Instead, Cantlay said during Friday's post-round press conference that his intention is to finish out school and turn pro after his senior year.

While he still has three years of college left and anything can change, Cantlay's decision to stay in school and let his game mature is one that a number of the game's top amateurs have taken to over the last few years.

Instead of trying to grind it out as a pro, Cantlay obviously feels his game is good enough to get him into a couple of pro tournaments and the major amateur events, which would be more than enough experience for someone of his pedigree.

The PGA Tour will be there when Cantlay does decide to turn pro. For now, he's just enjoying an incredible opportunity to play late on the weekend and learn as much as he can. That's more than any college freshman could ask for.

Sarah Wynter Jaime Pressly Ashanti Jennie Finch Lisa Snowdon

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