John Deere Classic

Luke Clanton (T-2) is first amateur to collect second consecutive top-10 finish on tour in 66 years

July 07, 2024
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Dylan Buell

Billy Joe Patton largely is a forgotten figure in golf history, a career amateur who often threatened to upstage professionals more than 60 years ago, but his name has resurfaced this week at the John Deere Classic courtesy of remarkable amateur Luke Clanton.

For the second straight week, Clanton, 20, a junior to be at Florida State and playing on a sponsor exemption, posted a top-10 finish in a PGA Tour event, finishing in a tie for second at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill., on Sunday. A week earlier he had finished 10th at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

He became the first amateur to post consecutive top-10s in PGA Tour events since Patton tied for eighth in the U.S. Open in 1957 and finished eighth in the Masters in 1958. Patton was a member of the U.S. Walker Cup team five times and in 1954 came within a stroke of joining Ben Hogan and Sam Snead in a playoff at the Masters.

Clanton shot a bogey-free eight-under 63 on Sunday, and birdied his final three holes and four of his last five. He completed 72 holes in 24-under 260, and tied with C.T. Pan and Michael Thorbjornsen, four behind winner Davis Thompson.

“It was good for sure,” Clanton said. “I mean, we came into the week with pretty high expectations, I guess you could say after last week. I think I kind of reached that expectation for sure. Of course you want to win. But again, to do what I did out there today was awesome. It's just a blessing to be here, man. It's unreal to make a birdie on the last hole and do all that.”

Clanton, No. 3 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, has been a dominant amateur this year. He won three straight college tournaments early this year, was a first team All-American, then tied for 41st in the U.S. Open. This latest performance, he said, reinforces his belief in his ability to succeed in professional golf.

“I mean, it just kind of proves again to me I know I can win out here,” he said. “I don't want to sound cocky or anything, but I wanted to prove to myself I can do it. After last week, being up there and in contention and this week … it just kind of shows me if I keep grinding and doing my thing I'll be all right.”

Clanton insisted that he does not intend to turn professional any time soon. “Again, I want to win a national championship with the team [Florida State],” he said prior to the start of the John Deere Classic. “That's been my No. 1 goal in college and we came pretty close this year. All of us back home are very driven this year to do it.”

Clanton, meanwhile, also has sponsor exemptions into the ISCO Championship at Keene Trace GC in Nicholasville, Ky., next week and the 3M Championship later this month in Minnesota.