Patrick Cantlay, 20, is making his Masters Tournament debut this year. A sophomore at UCLA from Los Alamitos, Calif., Cantlay is the 2011 U.S. Amateur runner-up to Kelly Kraft and the world’s No. 1-ranked amateur. He agreed to share his thoughts on his first Masters through Tournament week with Masters.com’s Thomas Bonk:
One of the things that I’ve discovered is that it’s not really difficult playing as an amateur among the pros. The only difficult part is that I’m not out there playing every week, so it’s kind of hard to get into a rhythm. Not being used to the golf courses and how the golf course is set up, that makes it a little bit tougher. But golf is just golf.
I think something can be said for playing multiple PGA Tour events in a row, getting comfortable and getting in a groove as opposed to going to school for two weeks, going to a tournament, going back to school for two weeks and then going to a tournament.
There’s no mindset switch from amateur to pro when you play amateur or pro events. I don’t think being an amateur has anything to do with it. I expect to compete and give myself a chance to win every tournament I tee it up in. It doesn’t matter if you’re an amateur or a pro. I think you need to have that mindset if you’re going to play well. I also think it’s hard for some amateurs to have that mindset if they’re playing Tour events, but for me, I’ve played in enough now that I feel comfortable.
At UCLA, Coach Derek Freeman has been very supportive and I obviously get along very well with him. By far the closest ex-Bruin I’m with on the Tour is John Merrick. My coach Jamie Mulligan works with him, too. Kevin Chappell, another former Bruin, is a really good guy and he’s been playing great. It’s been nice to get to know him a little bit.
I’ve been busy working on everything with my game, but especially my chipping and putting. I think that can definitely help you turn a 73-74 into a 68-69. As for the Masters, I’m not really working on anything in particular for it. I’m going to try to prepare just like any other week and not trump it up in my head. I think that gives me the best opportunity to play my best.
I’ve really enjoyed my time as an amateur. Even though I’ve played a bunch of amateur golf, I don’t feel like I’ve been an amateur for that long. I was a junior golfer and I’ve been an amateur for maybe a year and half or so now, so I really enjoy it and there are a lot of good tournaments.
I turned 20 last week, on March 17. People ask me all the time about the pros, but I’m really not focused on it. I’m really focused on playing well in whatever tournament I have, regardless of my status. But it’s something that I may look at down the road.