Luke Clanton’s John Deere runner-up earns mark not seen in 66 years

Luke Clanton reacts to a birdie putt at the John Deere Classic.

Luke Clanton just accomplished something that hasn't been done in nearly 70 years.

Dylan Buell/Getty Images

This season has been the year of the amateur in professional golf.

First, Nick Dunlap shocked the golf world by becoming the first amateur to win on the PGA Tour since 1991. Then Neal Shipley won over fans as the low amateur at both the Masters and U.S. Open while three teenagers were simultaneously turning heads on the Korn Ferry and PGA Tours.

Now as the summer heat has turned on, the PGA Tour is quickly becoming familiar with 20-year-old Luke Clanton.

After briefly contending and ending up with a T10 finish last week at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in his first regular PGA Tour start, Clanton was at it again this week.

After opening the John Deere Classic with a 63 on Thursday, Clanton went nuclear again Sunday. The rising junior at Florida State went out in 33, but came home in 30 on the strength of birdies on each of the last three holes and four of the last five.

That earned him a co-runner-up finish and a piece of history. With his second top-10 finish in back-to-back starts, Clanton became the first amateur to do that on the PGA Tour since Billy Joe Patton in 1958.

He had no idea of the significance of his finish.

“I didn’t even know that either. I promise you, man, I’m pretty simple when it comes to all this,” Clanton said. “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.”

Luke Clanton is contending at the John Deere Classic.
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The amateur was electric down the stretch Sunday. While Davis Thompson had put the tournament on ice with four holes to play, Clanton could have secured a place in the Open Championship had he separated from co-runners-up C.T. Pan and Michael Thorbjornsen, who himself just finished a standout career at Standford and earned a PGA Tour card through PGA Tour University.

Pan ultimately got the second of the two available spots at the John Deere by virtue of his higher Official World Golf Ranking.

Clanton claimed he didn’t know about the potential spot at Royal Troon, but he would have had a lot of people fooled by the way he fist-pumped after draining his final birdie putt from nearly 25 feet on 18.

“It just kind of proves again to me I know I can win out here,” he said. “I think 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 hopefully in second place, whatever it is, it just kind of shows me if I keep grinding and doing my thing I’ll be all right.”

Clanton, the No. 1 amateur in the world, made a bold statement earlier in the week that he believes about 20 amateurs in the college ranks currently could win on the PGA Tour. Many shook it off, even after Dunlap’s historic win in January.

But if Clanton continues to contend on Tour this summer, he’ll let his play do the talking.

Jack Hirsh Editor

Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is a 2020 graduate of Penn State University, earning degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his high school golf team and recently returned to the program to serve as head coach. Jack also still *tries* to remain competitive in local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as a Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at



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