TOURBound: Gordon Sargent becomes first player to achieve TOUR card through PGA TOUR University Accelerated
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Written by Adam Stanley @adam_stanley
Earlier this year, Gordon Sargent – the slightly built, baby-faced superstar-in-waiting – got mistaken for a competitor in the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals.
It was Sunday of Masters week. Sargent, the reigning NCAA Division I individual champion, had earned a spot in the tournament thanks to a special invitation – something Augusta National hadn’t extended to an amateur in 23 years.
Sargent, 19 at the time, was trying to find player dining.
“Thankfully a couple guys from (Augusta National) when I came last month from inside remembered me and guided me along. But, yeah, it was pretty funny,” Sargent said. “They’re like, ‘Where are your parents? Did they send you by yourself?’ And I was like, ‘No, they’re coming in. I can travel by myself sometimes.’”
A case of mistaken identity will likely not happen again anytime soon for Sargent.
The hype train is about to pull into the final station.
Sargent is #TOURBound.
A junior at Vanderbilt, Sargent has earned the 20 points necessary via PGA TOUR University Accelerated after teeing it up at the World Amateur Team Championships.
"It’s really special. Seeing all of what the PGA TOUR U has done for college golf is really cool. It used to be that if you feel like you’re ready to turn pro, you kind of had to take your chances, but now knowing where you are and to have some status is huge.
"I know all of us are very fortunate to have that and to have the PGA TOUR U with us. It means a lot and it’s exciting to be the first one and hopefully pave the way for others.”
In addition to the two points Sargent received by competing at the Walker Cup in September, Sargent notched one more point for teeing it up in the World Amateur Team Championships to get to 20. He is assured a PGA TOUR card – if he chooses to accept – after the 2023-24 collegiate season. Players who earn a TOUR card via PGA TOUR University Accelerated can defer their status to a time of their choosing.
“The World Amateur is a super big deal. I’ve been fortunate to represent my country a couple of times," Sargent said, during the World Amateur Team Championships. "There’s no greater feeling than representing the United States and hearing your name alongside that. It’s really cool to have it happen here in Abu Dhabi, obviously I have a cool setting behind me. It means the world.”
Sargent is the first player to earn TOUR membership via PGA TOUR University Accelerated, and he’s the first to earn a TOUR card on collegiate merit prior to senior year.
Gordon Sargent earns TOUR card through PGA TOUR University Accelerated
Ludvig Åberg earned PGA TOUR status by finishing No. 1 on the 2023 PGA TOUR University Ranking at the conclusion of his senior season. Åberg has since notched two top-five finishes on the PGA TOUR, won the Omega European Masters on the DP World Tour, and earned two points as a captain’s pick for the victorious European Team at last month’s Ryder Cup.
Sargent has been long on the radar of the world’s best, and now he’ll have the ability to compete alongside them in a full-time capacity. Sargent, who earned his 17th point after making the cut at the John Deere Classic, received a point for making the cut at the U.S. Open (where he finished tied for 39th) plus an extra point for just competing at the U.S. Open and the Masters.
The Masters was a hello-world moment for Sargent – other than the early-week chuckle. Sargent was the first freshman in 16 years to win the NCAA individual championship, and he became the first amateur since Aaron Baddeley in 2000 to earn a special invitation from Augusta National. Baddeley was 18 at the time and won the Australian Open that year.
“It shows that they think you can compete with the best in the world,” Sargent said of the invitation.
Sargent accumulated PGA TOUR University Accelerated points by reaching No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, competing at the Palmer Cup in both 2022 and 2023, playing in the 2022 World Amateur Team Championships, winning the 2022 NCAA Division I individual title and winning the 2022 NCAA Division I Outstanding Freshman Award.
Sargent was also named a semifinalist for the AAU James E. Sullivan Award this year – honoring an outstanding amateur athlete in the United States. University of Iowa basketball standout Caitlin Clark ended up winning the award – which boasts past winners like Bobby Jones, Peyton Manning and Michael Phelps.
The 20-year-old didn’t go all summer without any hardware, however.
Sargent won the Mark H. McCormack Medal as the leading male in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. That honor earned him spots in both the 2024 U.S. Open at Pinehurst and 2024 Open Championship at Royal Troon.
“It’s really special to have won the McCormack Medal, especially when you see the names of the golfers who have won it before, and everything that comes along with it, including the major exemptions,” said Sargent in a statement. “This achievement definitely means a lot to me. It’s a goal that I’ve had set for a while, and it gives me a lot of confidence now that I’ve achieved it. I’m really honored to be receiving the medal.”
Sargent also went 4-0 at the Walker Cup, helping lead the U.S. to a come-from-behind victory against Great Britain and Ireland, 14.5-11.5. Others who have won all four matches at the Walker Cup include Rickie Fowler, Collin Morikawa and Jack Nicklaus.
PGA TOUR University's Gordon Sargent on TOUR players who have given him advice
How did we, however, get here?
Sargent has been part of the golfing conversation in his native Alabama since he was 9 years old. Jay Seawell, the long-time men’s golf coach for the Crimson Tide, got a call from Sargent’s mother asking if her son could attend the school’s golf camp that year even though the minimum age is 10.
Sargent showed up with a cut-down wedge and picked a ball cleaning off a tight lie. It bounced twice and cuddled next to the hole.
“I went, ‘Do you want to teach camp?’” Seawell said with a laugh. “That’s my first run-in with Gordon Sargent.”
That youngster-turned-prodigy would win the Alabama Boys State Junior Championship by six in 2019 and back-to-back Alabama State Amateur Championships in 2020 and 2021.
He quickly became a collegiate star with a game that quickly looked like it belonged on major-championship stages, too.
While Sargent was confused for a different kind of competitor at Augusta National earlier this year, he’ll have a pretty clear credential come spring: PGA TOUR member.