Published Aug 17, 2011 12:00 AM
For some, it's all about the Benjamins. For sophomore Patrick Cantlay, it's all about the Bruins.
Earlier this year, UCLA athletes from the hardwood (Tyler Honeycutt, Malcolm Lee) to the gridiron (Akeem Ayers, Rahim Moore) garnered headlines for turning pro early.
Patrick Cantlay hit the links and made headlines for not turning pro.
While those other guys prepped for the pros, Cantlay played a little golf. His summer highlights include shooting a 284 at the U.S. Open (good for a tie for 21st), an 11-under-par 269 at the Traveler's Championship, a 3-under 277 at the AT&T National, and an even-par 280 at the RBC Canadian Open. All told he played in four PGA events and finished in the Top 25 in each. All told, he earned just over $200,000.
As an amateur, Cantlay didn't earn a nickel, though he retained his college eligibility. He did become the ninth Bruin to win the SCGA Amateur Championship with a 14-under 270, was low amateur at the U.S. Open, shot a -10 at the Traveler's (the lowest ever round by an amateur in a PGA Tour event) and was named to the U.S. Walker Cup Team, the first UCLA golfer to receive an invitation since Corey Pavin in 1982.
Cantlay started golfing as a toddler using cut-off clubs. He played his first tournament at nine, though he preferred baseball and basketball until he enrolled at Servite High in Anaheim, where he twice earned the O.C Register's High School Golfer of the Year distinction. Though both of his parents attended USC, he chose UCLA for the academics and coaching. "UCLA fit the best for me," says Cantlay.
"As a golfer, he's extremely mature, he understands his swing and what he's trying to do," says UCLA golf coach Derek Freeman, who works in tandem with Jamie Mulligan, Cantlay's personal coach. "More than anything, he knows how to play holes in a way that gives him the best opportunity to score."
Cantlay says he plans to golf for the Bruins for four years; only then will he try to earn a living as a professional golfer. But in today's climate, he understands how his summer vacation garnered so much attention. "It comes with the territory," Cantlay says, "and hopefully I'll be dealing with it the rest of my life."
But what about all that money?
"It's a lot of money and I realize not everyone has an opportunity (to earn that much)," says Cantlay, who is content with his decision to remain in Westwood. "It's really fun being part of a team, playing for someone other than yourself and a chance to win the NCAA championship."
For more about Cantlay and other UCLA golfers, check UCLABruins.com.