John Deere Classic: Luke Clanton devoted to college years, professional golf waits

Luke Clanton played phenomenally, finishing tied for 10th at last week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit. The Florida State golfer is back on the PGA Tour for the second consecutive event as he is in the field for the John Deere Classic.

Heading into the final day of play, Clanton sat two strokes off the lead. Many felt he could join Nick Dunlap and become the second amateur golfer in six months to win a PGA Tour event. Instead, he shot an even-par 72 on Sunday.

Despite that level of success against PGA Tour players, the rising junior is not worried about professional golf just yet.

“I want to win a national championship with the team,” Clanton said ahead of the John Deere Classic.

“That’s been my number one goal in college, and we came pretty close this year. All of us back home are very driven this year to do it. Again, I think whatever happens happens. I’m still 20 years old. I’m still learning the ropes as much as I can. I’m going to do what I do.”

Clanton finished as the second-lowest amateur to Neal Shipley at Pinehurst in the U.S. Open and kept the momentum going in Detroit with a 14-under total score. His driver was his best club, as he was No. 2 in strokes gained off the tee at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

Clanton is a rising junior at Florida State University and helped the Seminoles get to the national title match against Auburn. He fell 2 & 1 in his final match to J.M. Butler.

However, the 20-year-old had one of the most impressive spring runs. He won three consecutive events, was runner-up in the NCAA Individual tournament, recorded 10 top 1s in 14 starts, and finished with the lowest single-season average in FSU history at 69.33.

He likes to keep it simple on the golf course. Regardless of what he has won in his young career, it is all about golf.

“I’m out here to play the best I can. Simple as that,” he said. “If I put four days together and it gets me more accelerated points, awesome. Number one goal is to play as good as I can.”

Even though he could have won over six figures last week, the youngster is determined to finish school. Clanton knows that professional golf will be there when he accomplishes the goals he set for himself in college.

“I would say I’m probably pretty close to where I wanted to be,” Clanton said. “I would say I think I had pretty big goals growing up, a lot of expectations for what I wanted to do. There is one thing I want. I think that’s pretty obvious of course. I think we’re just going to see what happens in the next couple of weeks.”

That goal is not a PGA Tour victory but an individual and team national championship with Florida State.

For the first two rounds of the John Deere Classic, Clanton is paired with Pierceson Coody and Joe Highsmith. They tee off at 2:44 p.m. ET on Thursday and at 9:24 a.m. ET on Friday.

The youngster’s next tournament will be the ISCO Championship in Nicholasville, Kentucky, from July 11 to 14. Clanton received a sponsor’s exemption. It is the opposite field event to the Genesis Scottish Open. He will also play in the 3M Open on an exemption at the end of July.

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

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