Thornberry decides to turn pro
December 14, 2018
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
Braden Thornberry’s bump-and-run birdie at FedEx St. Jude
Braden Thornberry, the 2017 NCAA champion and fourth-ranked amateur in the world, announced Friday that he has turned pro. He was in the middle of his senior season at the University of Mississippi.
“The past three-and-a-half years have created memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life,” he wrote on Twitter. “From the people, to the entire college experience, Ole Miss has helped prepare me for my future. A dream that I had as a kid is now a reality. I am a professional golfer.”
Thornberry will have conditional status on the Web.com Tour in 2019 after finishing 74th at last week’s Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament. His successful amateur career also makes it likely he’ll receive all seven of the sponsor exemptions that non-members are allowed to accept each PGA TOUR season.
This is the second consecutive season that multiple All-Americans have turned pro in the middle of the season. Alabama senior Davis Riley turned pro last week after helping the Crimson Tide to a runner-up finish in this year’s NCAA Championship.
Cameron Champ and Will Zalatoris made a similar move last year. Champ, who finished 16th in last year’s Q-School, already has a PGA TOUR victory (Sanderson Farms Championship) and is sixth in this season’s FedExCup standings. Zalatoris missed five of six cuts on the PGA TOUR in 2018 and failed to make Q-School’s Final Stage.
Both players were teammates with Thornberry on last year’s victorious Walker Cup team. In addition to winning that year’s NCAA title, Thornberry shot a final-round 65 to finish T4 in his first PGA TOUR event, the FedEx St. Jude Classic.
Thornberry has made the cut in three of five PGA TOUR starts. He also finished T26 at this year’s FedEx St. Jude and was T61 in the 2017 RSM Classic, where he shot a second-round 64.
He earned the latter start for winning the prestigious Jones Cup Invitational. Past winners of that event include 2017 FedExCup champion Justin Thomas, as well as PGA TOUR players Patrick Reed, Kyle Stanley, Luke List, Beau Hossler, Corey Conners, D.J. Trahan and John Peterson.
Thornberry finished T22 in the only Web.com Tour start of his career, at this year’s North Mississippi Classic.
He won this year’s Mark H. McCormack Medal as the top-ranked player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking after the completion of the U.S. Amateur. By turning pro, Thornberry forfeits the starts in the 2019 U.S. Open and The Open Championship that came with that award.
He played in this fall’s Q-School as an amateur, announcing that he would make a decision on his status after completing the final stage. He holed a 5-foot par putt on the final hole to advance out of second stage on the number.
Thornberry shared the first-round lead at final stage after shooting 62. He didn’t break 70 the rest of the week, though, shooting just 4 under par over the final 54 holes.
That tournament marked the end of a storied amateur career.