The heartbreaking reason amateur Luke Clanton misses out on a place in The Open

Luke Clanton became the first amateur to record back-to-back top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour since 1958 at the John Deere Classic.

Luke Clanton
Luke Clanton

Amateur Luke Clanton entered the record books with his tie for second at the John Deere Classic last night but was then agonisingly denied a first appearance at The Open Championship solely as a result of his world ranking position.

Clanton, 20, became the first amateur since Billy Patton in 1958 to record back-to-back top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour.

He finished T10 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic seven days previous before going on to finish T2 at the John Deere Classic.

The rising American star drained a bomb for birdie on the 72nd hole to close with a stunning 8-under 63 and finish in a tie for second alongside his final-round playing partner Michael Thorbjornsen and CT Pan. 

The trio finished four shots adrift of eventual first-time PGA Tour winner Davis Thompson

Luke Clanton
Luke Clanton

As Clanton sat down to speak with CBS' Amanda Balionis off the back off the 18th green, he looked on as Pan two-putted for par.

At the time it was unknown as to what would happen to Clanton's spot in the 152nd Open Championship at Royal Troon in two weeks' time, but it was soon made clear by the R&A that the second and final Open spot would be determined by OWGR positions. 

With only two places available in The Open to unexempt players via the John Deere Classic, the first invite went to Thompson and the second to Pan.

Pan's Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) position was 144th prior to the tournament, while Clanton was 599th and Thorbjornsen was 670th.

Clanton did get to compete in his first major championship earlier this season and he performed admirably with a T41 at the US Open last month.

CT Pan's runner-up finish secured his Open spot
CT Pan's runner-up finish secured his Open spot

The other unfortunate scenario for Clanton is that he has had to pass up in the region of $800,000 over the past two weeks on the PGA Tour as a result of his amateur status, meaning he cannot collect any earnings until he becomes a professional. 

Here's how much they all made at the 2024 John Deere Classic

This was the same issue that faced Nick Dunlap earlier this season when he became the first amateur in 33 years to win a PGA Tour title at the American Express. 

Dunlap had to pass up $1.5m that week

Luke Clanton
Luke Clanton

Clanton, who has now vaulted up to a 212th in the OWGR, said after the tournament: 

"We came into the week with pretty high expectations. I think I kind of reached that expectation for sure. Of course you want to win. But again, to do what I did out there today was awesome. It’s just a blessing to be here, man.

"It’s unreal to make a birdie on the last hole and do all that."

It will no doubt not be very long until Clanton decides to turn professional.

Many expect Clanton to become a major force in the game, and the early signs of his play on the PGA Tour most certainly live up to the hype. 

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