UCLA Frosh Cantlay Can Play
By Stephanie Wei under US Open

Patrick Cantlay, who just wrapped up his freshman year at U.C.L.A., found his comfort zone on Friday at the U.S. Open, firing an impressive four-under 67 to cancel out his opening four-over 75. At the halfway mark, the 19-year-old from California will safely make the cut with a 36-hole total of even par.

The difference between the two rounds? He was more accurate off the tee.

“It’s easier playing from the fairway,” said Cantlay, who won the Jack Nicklaus Award as collegiate player of the year. “I drove it better today, and I really felt comfortable on the greens and started rolling some putts in.”

If Cantlay continues his fine play, he can walk away with low amateur honors, but he’s just trying to play his best and learn from the experience.

“I’m just trying to learn as much as I can this week and get better,” he said. “I’m just going to try and play the golf course as best I can. It’s a great experience. It’s a lot of fun and I’m just going to try and learn from the other guys.”

Cantlay obviously finds it gratifying that his game is good enough to play with the big boys, but don’t bank on him turning pro early.

“My timeline is (to turn pro) after I graduate from UCLA,” he said.

When asked again about his future plans, Cantlay simply said, “To graduate.” Which apparently startled or confused the reporter, who then wanted to know when the earliest Cantlay would entertain the idea of going pro. (I think he was pretty  clear the first two times.)

“After I get a degree,” he said. “I just finished my freshman year, so I have three more years at UCLA.”

As shocking as it may sound, Cantlay will stick it out at UCLA instead of turning pro and signing seven-digit endorsement contracts. Say what? Yes, he actually wants to experience college and earn a degree!

(AP Photo/The Tulsa World, Matt Barnard)