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Former Masters participant Jin leaves USC to turn pro

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USC junior Cheng Jin is leaving school early to turn pro.

Jin informed Trojans head coach Chris Zambri of his decision on Tuesday. The 20-year-old from Beijing, China, made it through Asian Tour Q-School last month and will relinquish his amateur status to play on the tour this year.

The decision, though, wasn't easy, as Jin wrote Tuesday evening on Instagram.

"Having mixed feelings about my final decision made today to leave USC and start playing professional golf," Jin said. "Can’t thank my coaches, teammates, friends, and everyone who’s helped me along the journey enough. I am beyond grateful for all the precious memories and experiences I’ve had with them in the past two and a half years. Looking forward to my rookie year and I‘ll always be a proud Trojan."

Jin qualified for three of four events for USC last fall, notching one top-25 finish. He had six combined top-25s in his first two seasons and was T-13 at last spring's Pac-12 Championship.

He shined more outside of college. At age 16, he became the first amateur to win on the PGA Tour China. A year later, he won the Asia-Pacific Amateur to earn a spot in the 2016 Masters, where he missed the cut.

Jin is the third player from a Power 5 school to turn pro this winter. Ole Miss senior Braden Thornberry and Alabama senior Davis Riley made the jump last month.

USC finished the fall ranked eighth in the Golfstat rankings.