This college star already earned his PGA Tour card. But there’s a catch

Gordon Sargent hits a drive during the John Deere Classic.

Gordon Sargent at the John Deere Classic in July.

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Gordon Sargent is living life in the (very) fast lane.

Less than 18 months ago the now-Vanderbilt junior won the individual title at the NCAA Div. I Championship, becoming just the ninth freshman to accomplish the feat.

That kicked off an outstanding run of play that landed him in the top spot in the amateur world rankings. Sargent wasn’t done, though. His heater continued Wednesday as he began play at the World Amateur Team Championship, which earned him his 20th point in the PGA Tour University Accelerated. That’s significant, because players who amass at least 20 points by the end of their third year of NCAA eligibility are granted PGA Tour membership.

The PGA Tour University program was launched in 2020 to provide top collegiate players who play four years of college golf with Korn Ferry Tour status for the remainder of the current season. But late last year, the PGA Tour revamped the program, granting the top point-earning senior full PGA Tour membership for the remainder of the season and the following one.

This past summer, Swedish star Ludvig Aberg was the first player to take advantage of the PGA Tour status. His play after turning professional eventually earned him a spot on the European Ryder Cup team as a captain’s selection.

At the same time as the changes, the Tour also created the PGA Tour University Accelerated program to provide underclassmen a way to the big stage. The PGA Tour U Accelerated program allows college golfers in their first through third years to earn points for playing or winning big events (National amateurs, majors, the NCAA Championship, etc.) and upon reaching 20 points, be eligible for PGA Tour membership at the conclusion of their junior season.

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Since 2010, only Patrick Cantlay (2012), Justin Thomas (2013) and Patrick Rodgers (2014) would have met the criteria for early PGA Tour membership. Sargent becomes the fourth player. You can see Sargent’s point breakdown below:

  • Oct. 18, 2023 – Competes for United States at World Amateur Team Championships (1 Point)
  • Sept. 2, 2023 – Competes for United States at Walker Cup (2 Points)
  • July 7, 2023 – Makes cut in PGA TOUR event at John Deere Classic (1 Point)
  • June 16, 2023 – Makes cut at major championship at U.S. Open (1 Point)
  • June 15, 2023 – Makes major championship start at U.S. Open (1 Point)
  • June 8, 2023 – Competes for United States at Arnold Palmer Cup (1 Point)
  • April 6, 2023 – Makes major championship start at Masters Tournament (1 Point)
  • Feb. 15, 2023 – Reaches No. 1 in World Amateur Golf Ranking (5 Points)
  • Aug. 31, 2022 – Competes for United States at World Amateur Team Championships (1 Point)
  • July 1, 2022 – Competes for United States at Arnold Palmer Cup (1 Point)
  • June 1, 2022 – Wins 2022 NCAA Division I Outstanding Freshman Award (2 Points)
  • May 30, 2022 – Wins individual medalist honors at NCAA Championship (3 Points)

No other underclassman has more than 10 points, where Alabama sophomore and reigning U.S. Amateur champion Nick Dunlap sits.

Sargent won’t be eligible to pick up his membership until the end of the NCAA Championship in May, but he’ll keep his status through the end of the 2024 season and the entire ’25 season.

PGA Tour University senior manager Chris Richards told last November at the announcement of the program, the deferral of membership until the end of the season was created to protect college golf teams.

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“The member benefits we’re providing PGA Tour U players are built around that early-June entry point,” Richards wrote in an email. “This is also true if a player earns his 20th point in November of his junior season — he isn’t eligible to accept membership until after NCAAs. The cutoff being the end of their 3rd year of eligibility aligns with this entry point, and it also ensures college coaches have a full understanding of their rosters. If a rising senior won the U.S. Amateur in August, earned his 20th point, and suddenly accepted Tour membership just weeks before the fall season began, the coach and team would be left in a bad spot.”

While Sargent will be the first underclassman to accept membership through the program, he already has proven he can compete with the world’s best professionals.

Sargent played in two majors in 2023 (the Masters and U.S. Open) and earned low-amateur honors at the U.S. Open with a T39 finish. His total at LACC of four over could have actually been one stroke better had his putt on the 72nd green not hit the center of the cup liner and bounced out from just two feet.

That didn’t phase Sargent, however, as he made another Tour cut at the John Deere Classic in July.

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