A week after competing for the United States in the Walker Cup at Royal Aberdeen last September, Peter Uihlein teed it up in his first college tournament of his senior year at Oklahoma State, finishing a disappointing T-41 at the Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational outside of Chicago.
As it turns out it was also his last.
The 2010 U.S. Amateur champion announced Dec. 19 that he was bypassing his final semester in Stillwater and will be represented by Chubby Chandler's International Sports Management group. The 22-year-old said he plans to make his professional debut at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship on the European Tour next month and is seeking exemptions into other European Tour events for 2012.
"The PGA European Tour plays all over the world from the United Kingdom to China, from Korea to South Africa and from the Middle East to Southeast Asia," Uihlein said in a press release. "And those players who have played on the tour, and who are still members, make for a pretty impressive list."
Uihlein also is eligible to receive up to seven sponsor's exemptions on the PGA Tour next year.
While Uihlein spent the past few years putting together a standout amateur career that included two Walker Cup appearances, victories at the Northeast Amateur and the Sahalee Players along with his U.S. Amateur victory at Chambers Bay nearly 16 months, he often said he planned to finish up his four years with the Cowboys.
Even as Uihlein entered both PGA Tour and European Tour qualifying schools this fall as an amateur—where he failed to earn full-time status on either tour—he insisted he was going to finish up his college career. (Uihlein did miss Oklahoma State's final three college tournaments of the fall.)
In the process of competing in Q schools, however, he apparently had a change of heart regarding when was the right time to make the move to the pro ranks. The idea of having a full calendar year to earn a European Tour card, rather than join the tour midway through 2012, was part of the thought process.
OSU men's coach Mike McGraw told Golf World that Uihlein informed him of his decision when the two met in person Dec. 12.
"When he came to me, I was a little surprised," McGraw said. "But he explained it, and I respected his decision. I couldn't fault him for it one bit. He gave us everything he had for 3 1/2 years."
Uihlein has competed in six professional events as an amateur during the past two years, making the cut three times with his best finish being a T-48 at July's British Open, where he earned low amateur honors.
"I am delighted that Peter is joining us," Chandler said. "It is a pioneering move by him. The obvious tepee would have been to try to establish his career in the United States, but having seen players like Lee Westwood,Charl Schwartzel,Louis Oosthuizen and Darren Clarke build careers by playing all over the world, including America, Peter has been encouraged by that. I'm sure that he will benefit enormously form the experience."