Why former collegiate stars have a new mindset on Tour

If it seems like there’s a new, fresh-from-college winner on the PGA Tour every year, you aren’t imagining things. Players like Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland and Matthew Wolff are just a few of the notable players who burst onto the pro golf scene seamlessly after impressive collegiate careers.

On this week’s episode of Off Course with Claude Harmon, University of Florida men’s golf coach JC Deacon explained why the new generation of young golfers is so fearless — and how it’s the result of a stark change in mindset.

“Ricky Castillo on our team right now, he knows Collin, he knew Collin growing up,” Deacon said. “So he looks at the success he’s having and he’s like, I know him, I’ve played with him, I’ve seen him. He’s good, but it’s like, I can do that.”

NCAA golfers compete in a tournament
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Deacon, who tried to make it as a tour pro himself, said that when he was coming up, players like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were clearly out of reach in terms of their talent and abilities. But today’s players have peers on Tour who are winning, making it seem feasible for themselves.

Yuxin Lin, a Chinese player on Deacon’s team, has already played in four major championships, and was paired for two days with Sergio Garcia and Scottie Scheffler.

“Now these guys are, shoot, my friend’s doing that. If I keep working hard enough, I’m going to be able to do that too,” Deacon said. “It is a different mindset. I think with golf that’s such a huge thing. If you’re on that first tee and you think you can run with the guy beside you, you’re probably going to.”

For more from Deacon, including what it takes to be successful at the collegiate level, and how to get noticed by a top college program, check out the full interview below.

Jessica Marksbury
Golf.com

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on GOLF.com.