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Rocket Mortgage: Sensational Amateur Luke Clanton Wants to Make History

Rocket Mortgage: Sensational Amateur Luke Clanton Wants to Make History

Florida State sophomore Luke Clanton burst onto the scene Saturday at the Rocket Mortgage Classic when he recorded the score to beat.

He shot a 7-under 65 to sit at 14 under and just a few shots behind the leaders.

Clanton had six birdies, an eagle and a bogey that day. He was 5 under through 11 holes before dropping a shot on the 12th.

“We stayed super calm and super into the process of what we were doing,” Clanton said after his round on Saturday.

“I think that’s something I’ve struggled with the last couple of months, not getting ahead of my game and looking ahead to the future, but I think we did a really good job today of not trying to force the birdies, but just really staying in our process.”

After three rounds, Clanton leads the field in strokes gained off the tee at +4,378. He is also No. 7 in strokes gained putting, with +4.346 on the rest of the field.

In Saturday’s round alone, however, he leads in strokes off the tee (+1.491), putting (3.801) and total (+4.712).

His flat stick was phenomenal as the Seminole golfer made 117-foot putts during the third round, but his eagle on 14 was a veteran-style shot that showed his mettle.

“I hit a driver all the way down there, and that was probably one of the hardest ones I hit all day,” he said. “Had the perfect 5-iron with a left-to-right wind. I looked at Jason and said this could be really good if I hit this right, and I flushed it. I said, ‘Be the right club,'” and he said it. Hit it close and tagged in for eagle, so it was pretty sweet.”

His 7-under 65 put him in contention to win a PGA Tour event. Can the 20-year-old make history this week? He made the cut at the US Open and finished in a tie for 41st place. Clanton was the second-lowest amateur behind Neal Shipley, who made his professional PGA Tour debut this week.

“To be able to be here and even say I’m playing in the PGA TOUR tournament, it’s pretty crazy. That’s pretty cool, man,” he said.

“I shot 7 under today, it was great, but we could have made a few more birdies. My game plan has been the same all week: hit the driver as hard as I can, get it down there and make a few putts – it was good.

The last amateur to win on the PGA Tour was Nick Dunlap, who won the American Express in January. He became the first amateur since Phil Mickelson in 1991 to win the Tour.

The American Express, Nick Dunlap, Rocket Mortgage Classic, Luke Clanton

Photo by Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images

Now Clanton hopes to write his name in the history books.

“Me and Nick have a long history, so it’s awesome to see him do that,” Clanton said. “It’s cool, man. I think amateurs are so good now. I think a lot of guys here have great chances to win and to be in the fight with one day to go is pretty fun.”

The Florida State sophomore had one of his best spring seasons with three straight wins at the Seminole Intercollegiate, the Valspar Collegiate Invitational and the Lewis Chitengwa Memorial.

Clanton had ten top-10 finishes in fourteen tournaments last season, finishing at par or less in thirty of his forty rounds. He is currently ranked No. 6 in the World Amateur Golf rankings system.

If Ben Hogan’s semifinalist wins on Sunday, it will be the first time in 79 years that two amateurs have won on the PGA Tour. Cary Middlecoff and Fred Haas were the last to win in the same season in 1945.

Clanton will likely be in one of the final pools on Sunday, as his 65 moved him up 22 spots in the standings.

Savannah Leigh Richardson is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Follow us for more golf coverage @_SpelenDoor on all major social platforms. You can also follow her on Twitter @SportsGirlSL and Instagram @savannah_leigh_sports.