Amateur Luke Clanton stays hot, matches 66-year-old achievement

Amateur Luke Clanton stays hot, matches 66-year-old achievement
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Luke Clanton came into this week with high expectations.

“I think I kind of reached that expectation for sure,” Clanton said Sunday evening after tying for second at the John Deere Classic, his second straight top-10 finish on the PGA Tour following last week’s T-10 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

OK, so he smashed that expectation.

Clanton fired an 8-under 63, his second sub-65 round of the tournament, to tie Michael Thorbjornsen and C.T. Pan at 24 under, four shots back of Davis Thompson. While Clanton fell short of qualifying for The Open, the Florida State rising junior did become the first amateur since Billy Joe Patton in 1958 to notch top-10s in back-to-back Tour starts; Patton, however, notched T-8 showings at the 1957 U.S. Open and 1958 Masters.

Not that he realized any of that.

“I had no clue,” Clanton said when told the Deere was part of the Open qualifying series.

And on matching Patton’s feat: “I didn’t even know that either. I promise you, man, I’m pretty simple when it comes to all this. That’s awesome to even realize that. Making a little bit more history is pretty sweet no doubt. Couple more events coming up so hopefully we can win one.”

Clanton will compete in next week’s ISCO Championship in Kentucky, his third PGA Tour start in as many weeks. He’s playing that on a sponsor exemption, too, as amateurs are not eligible for the Tour’s top-10 exemption. Then he’ll head home to Hialeah, Florida, for a much-needed break before his fourth Tour start of the summer, at the 3M Open in Minnesota.

Clanton, who reiterated that he’s still planning on returning to Florida State for his junior year, surely believes now that he can follow in Nick Dunlap’s footsteps; Dunlap, who was in Clanton’s recruiting class, won the American Express back in January to become the first amateur in 33 years to win a Tour event.

“It just kind of proves again to me I know I can win out here,” Clanton 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 being in second place … it just kind of shows me if I keep grinding and doing my thing, I’ll be all right.”

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