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Cantlay Turns Pro


Patrick Cantlay has decided to leave the golf program at UCLA and become a professional. Cantlay made the announcement Tuesday at the site of this week's Travelers Championship. The $6 million PGA Tour event starts Thursday at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn.

The native of Long Beach won the California high school championship as a senior at Servite High, then went on to UCLA. In his freshman year in 2011 he won four tournaments andwas named the Haskins Award as the most outstanding college player. He also received the Phil Mickelson Award as the Golf Coaches Association of America's Freshman of the Year, and was the No. 1-ranked amateur in the world at the end of 2011.

The 20-year-old returns to a tournament where he made an impressive showing last year, firing a 10-under 60 in the second round. He admitted later he was thinking of a magic 59, peeking at the scoreboard after 14 holes. But after two straight pars, he closed with two birdies on Nos. 17 and 18 to post the lowest score in PGA Tour history by an amateur.

During his announcement in Connecticut, Cantlay, who's playing this week on a sponsor's exemption, discussed his decision with reporters. Here's that full Q&A.

MODERATOR: Like to introduce Patrick Cantlay. Patrick, 8:29 on Thursday you'll be playing your first round as a professional with Ryo Ishikawa and John Peterson. Do you want to talk about your decision and your thoughts coming into this week and we'll have some questions?

PATRICK CANTLAY: Yeah. Well, I had a really good time at UCLA for my two years, and I learned a lot and I developed a lot, and I've played really well this last year, and I feel like it's time for me to play as a pro. I think it's best for my golf game, and that's just what my when I talked over with my mom and my dad and Jamie Mulligan, that's just what we thought would be best for me and my game right now. So we thought Travelers since I played well here last year and it's after the U. S. Open it was the right time and that's kind of why I'm doing it now, and just felt right.

MODERATOR: And do you want to go through your thoughts on coming back after a great tournament here last year, what you're expecting coming back after a 60, which is the lowest ever by an amateur on Tour. Just kind of talk about going back to last year and what you're thinking coming back into this year.

PATRICK CANTLAY: Well, it's always, I think, good and it feels good to come back to a place where you played well. I have a lot of good memories coming out here. It's my second Tour event that I played just right after the U. S. Open last year and it was a lot of fun. My caddie, Chris, and I were out here and we had a great time. It just feels good to be back and I'm looking forward to having a good week.

MODERATOR: Questions?

Q. Patrick, I'd just like to ask you about a couple of holes on the back nine, about the 15th hole, it's a drivable par 4. Talk about your club selection, and are you trying to go for the green or are you trying to lay up to a yardage? What's your strategy there?

PATRICK CANTLAY: I think I'll have a go at it most every day, but it depends on the situation and kind of how I'm feeling. Definitely if I feel like I'm driving the ball well, I'll pull driver and won't even think about it twice.

Q. The 17 hole is only 420 yards, but it ranks as the fifth toughest hole on this golf course. Can you explain why that is and how do you approach that hole?

PATRICK CANTLAY: Well, it plays right next to the lake and the tee shot is a little intimidating with the bunkers left and the lake on the right. You just gotta man up and hit a really good tee shot and then I think I can knock it close on that green. The green's pretty friendly. It tilts right in front of you, no bunkers or anything. So hit a good drive and I think you can make a birdie.

Q. Patrick, how are you a better player now, a year later, than when you left us a year ago?

PATRICK CANTLAY: I think I have a lot more experience and I know my own game and limitations even better than I did last year. You know, I've played not a lot, but I've played five or six Tour events, I think, and any time you can play in a Tour event, especially the three majors that I've played, I think you learn a lot about your game and what it takes, and I feel comfortable playing in that type of environment.

Q. Patrick, talk about when you were going to turn pro, and I'm just wondering the thought process sort of behind your decision. Was it more you kind of already accomplished what you wanted to on the amateur level? Was it the success on this level, a little bit of both?

PATRICK CANTLAY: For me it was a combination of being comfortable with being a professional and taking it to the next level and timing. 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.

Q. How much did (indiscernible) have an impact on that?

PATRICK CANTLAY: Not so much. Like I said, it's still I think if you're good enough to be a pro, you're going to be able to be a pro pretty quick and it'll be apparent. So I don't think the Q School I think Q School still allows really good players to get out there fast.

Q. Do you have sponsors' exemptions to allow you to tournaments or do you have to apply for a lot more so you avoid going to Q School?

PATRICK CANTLAY: Right now I'm scheduled to play next week and the week after. And then I will look for some more sponsors' exemptions.

Q. Did the performance of Bo, the other amateur at the Open surprise you at all? Have you ever played with him?

PATRICK CANTLAY: I've never played a round with him. We played in the same high school league, actually. I think he was a freshman when I was a senior. I've heard a lot of good things about his game. Really solid, putts the ball well. Hits it straight. So I wasn't too surprised. I think people kind of underestimate the college and amateur level a little bit. Not a lot, but a little bit sometimes. You know, the amateurs can play well and compete at the highest level.

Q. You had six great finishes last year. I mean how difficult was it to walk away from that money?

PATRICK CANTLAY: I mean when you tee it up at the beginning of the week as an amateur, you don't feel like you're losing anything, you know. I got to a hole at the U. S. Open, my caddie turns to me and goes, "why not hit driver. You're an amateur. It's not like you're going to lose anything." (Laughs).

Q. Talk about last week, coming from that course to this course. Obviously totally different.

PATRICK CANTLAY: A lot different. But I think coming from that type of setup in that environment, it sharpens your game and your mind a lot. So I think it's an advantage to be playing that tournament and then coming to play the next week because I feel like your game's really sharp and acute.

Q. How much also did it help to grow up around Mallinger and those guys, Merrick, and all the preparation, just sort of being in that environment? How much did that help you get ready faster, tendency to have a lot of young players seem to be ready quicker than they were in the past?

PATRICK CANTLAY: I think it helped me a lot. More than I know probably. Because growing up in the culture around practicing and playing with Tour pros, you pick up things and, you know, how they practice, how they look at a golf course without even really you know, before I got to a Tour event I knew how a Tour pro played. So I wasn't in shock by how they talked or how they acted. So I think that was huge for me and I got a lot of advice from them and I think I owe a lot to those guys for bringing me up in that culture.

Q. Can you remember the biggest piece of advice they gave you?

PATRICK CANTLAY: John Cook said golf's just golf. If you're playing with your buddies, you know, it's a mini putt, your three footer is the same as the Masters, your last three footer. Still gotta put a good stroke on it.

Q. Obviously shooting 60 and finishing as well as you did here last year, it had a lot of positive vibes. Is there any two or three things that maybe stick out that you took away from that and can reflect back on now?

PATRICK CANTLAY: I think the biggest thing I learned that week, it was a big confidence booster for me. I realized for the first time that if I played really well, I could compete on any stage, and that was big just for my own, I guess, personal confidence knowing that my best is good enough to be the best.

MODERATOR: Okay. Looks like everybody's good.

Q. What is your caddie's name?

PATRICK CANTLAY: Chris Roth, R O T H.

MODERATOR: Thanks a lot, Patrick. Good luck this week.

PATRICK CANTLAY: Thank you.

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.