Justin Thomas, the 2012 NCAA Player of the Year and an integral part of Alabama’s national-title team, will forgo his final two years of college eligibility and turn pro after the Walker Cup in September.
Thomas, 20, told GolfChannel.com that the timing “really just felt right“ to test his game at the pro level after only two years at Alabama, where he won six events and helped lead the Crimson Tide to their first NCAA team title.
“It was so hard,” he said Monday night of his decision to leave school. “It was a great two years and I’ll never forget what I went through with the team. To win nationals after what happened last year (losing in the 2012 finals), it was kind of the icing on the cake. It was the perfect way to go out.”
Given his credentials, Thomas, No. 4 in the R&A’s World Amateur Rankings, is arguably the top pro prospect in the game. His plan after the Walker Cup is to try and secure a few sponsor exemptions during the start of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season, and maybe even play a couple of weeks in Europe, to prepare for Q-School. This is the first year that the qualifying tournament is not a direct route to the PGA Tour; instead, players will receive Web.com Tour cards.
Thomas’ upcoming schedule includes next week’s Western Amateur, the Aug. 12-18 U.S. Amateur and then the Sept. 7-8 Walker Cup.
In 2011-12, he was the National Player of the Year and swept nearly every postseason honor, most notably the Jack Nicklaus and Haskins awards. Last year, he won twice and posted six top 10s, earning second-team All-American honors.
Thomas, of Goshen, Ky., has already been named one of the 10 players who will compete for the U.S. in the upcoming Walker Cup at National Golf Links of America. It will be his first appearance in the biennial event, but he also was part of the Americans’ victorious World Amateur Team Championship squad in 2012.
Thomas is 3-for-4 in made cuts at the PGA Tour level, his best finish a T-30 at this year’s Travelers Championship. In 2009, at age 16, he made the 36-hole cut at the Wyndham Championship, where he became the fifth youngest to play the weekend at a PGA Tour event.
“I feel like I’m ready and thought I was very comfortable in the events that I have played in,” Thomas said. “I’m really excited about the next few months.”