Vanderbilt’s Gordon Sargent has had quite an exciting college golf career to date. In his freshman year, he won the individual title at the NCAA Div. I Championship, becoming just the ninth freshman to do so. That kicked off an outstanding run of play that landed him in the top spot in the amateur world rankings. Sargent, the 2022 NCAA Champion and current-ranked No. 2 in the World Amatuer Golf Rank, officially earned his PGA Tour Membership after teeing it up at the World Amateur Team Championships in Abu Dhabi. This tournament earned him his 20th point in the PGA Tour University Accelerated. Players who amass at least 20 points by the end of their third year of NCAA eligibility are granted PGA Tour membership.
The tour’s Accelerated endeavor was announced last year, bestowing an avenue for college underclassmen to earn tour membership. Players earn points based on their accomplishments in college, amateur and professional golf. The PGA Tour University program was launched in 2020. It’s goal was to provide top collegiate players, who play four years of college golf, with Korn Ferry Tour status for the remainder of the current season. However, late last year the PGA Tour revamped the program, allowing the top point-earning senior full PGA Tour membership for the remainder of the season and the following one. This past summer, Swedish star Ludvig Aberg was the first player to take advantage of the PGA Tour status. His play after turning professional eventually earned him a spot on the European Ryder Cup team as a captain’s selection.
The Tour also created the program to provide underclassmen a way to the big stage. It allows college golfers in their first through third years to earn points for playing or winning big events (National amateurs, majors, the NCAA Championship, etc.) and upon reaching 20 points, they would be eligible for PGA Tour membership at the conclusion of their junior season. Since 2010, only Patrick Cantlay (2012), Justin Thomas (2013) and Patrick Rodgers (2014) would have met the criteria for early PGA Tour membership. Sargent becomes the fourth player.
Here is a breakdown of the points Sargent acquired in order to earn his membership:
- Oct. 18, 2023 – Competes for United States at World Amateur Team Championships (1 Point)
- Sept. 2, 2023 – Competes for United States at Walker Cup (2 Points)
- July 7, 2023 – Makes cut in PGA TOUR event at John Deere Classic (1 Point)
- June 16, 2023 – Makes cut at major championship at U.S. Open (1 Point)
- June 15, 2023 – Makes major championship start at U.S. Open (1 Point)
- June 8, 2023 – Competes for United States at Arnold Palmer Cup (1 Point)
- April 6, 2023 – Makes major championship start at Masters Tournament (1 Point)
- Feb. 15, 2023 – Reaches No. 1 in World Amateur Golf Ranking (5 Points)
- Aug. 31, 2022 – Competes for United States at World Amateur Team Championships (1 Point)
- July 1, 2022 – Competes for United States at Arnold Palmer Cup (1 Point)
- June 1, 2022 – Wins 2022 NCAA Division I Outstanding Freshman Award (2 Points)
- May 30, 2022 – Wins individual medalist honors at NCAA Championship (3 Points)
Currently, no other underclassman has more than 10 points. This is where Alabama sophomore and reigning U.S. Amateur champion Nick Dunlap sits.
Sargent won’t be eligible to pick up his membership until the end of the NCAA Championship in May, but he’ll keep his status through the end of the 2024 season and the entire 2025 season. It seems Sargent is expected to forgo his senior season at Vanderbilt to turn professional. However, should he stay in school, he’d be able to defer his tour membership until 2025.
PGA Tour University senior manager, Chris Richards, toldlast year during the announcement of the program that the deferral of membership until the end of the season was created to protect college golf teams. Richards wrote, “The member benefits we’re providing PGA Tour U players are built around that early-June entry point. This is also true if a player earns his 20th point in November of his junior season — he isn’t eligible to accept membership until after NCAAs. The cutoff being the end of their 3rd year of eligibility aligns with this entry point, and it also ensures college coaches have a full understanding of their rosters. If a rising senior won the U.S. Amateur in August, earned his 20th point, and suddenly accepted Tour membership just weeks before the fall season began, the coach and team would be left in a bad spot.”
Even though Sargent will be the first underclassman to accept membership through the program, he has already proven he can compete with the world’s best professionals. Just this year, he played in two major tournaments: the Masters and U.S. Open. He earned low-amateur honors at the U.S. Open with a T39 finish. We’ll have to wait and see just what Gordon Sargent decides to do, now that his future in professional golf just got a little brighter!
Source: Jack Hirsh for Golf.com | Joel Beall for Golf Digest
– Photo Credit: Getty Images –
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