This past weekend, an amateur by the name of Harris English won the Nationwide Tour event, and his buddy and fellow amateur, John Peterson, came in third. It was an incredible feat, but not so unlikely, as we've already had an amateur take down a Nationwide Tour tournament earlier this season.
Doing something like this, on the second biggest stage in golf is incredible, but is worthy of these comments from both English and Peterson?
"The top guys in college, the top 20 or 30 guys, can beat the top 20, 30 guys on the PGA Tour," Peterson said. "Maybe with the exception of two or three guys who are constantly up there, like a Matt Kuchar or Luke Donald, those guys that are always there ... those top 20 college guys will beat those top 20 or 30 PGA Tour guys, if given the opportunity. They just don't have the opportunity."
English agreed. "You look at what happened here, you look at what guys are doing this week in Canada ... at the U.S. Open there are always a couple of amateurs playing well," he said. "On any given week when you give amateurs a shot, they're going to (card some low numbers) because we're ruthless. All college events are very competitive, and you learn how to go out there and win. The college golf system is awesome. You see guys coming out every year ready to compete and showing it off."
I would first like to point Mr. English and Mr. Peterson to my second favorite golf quote ever from the one and only Craig Stadler, who once said this to an All-American boasting about all his wins on the amateur level -- "You see the guy next to you? And the guy next to him? Every one of them, All-Americans. There's an NCAA Champion, a U.S. Amateur champion, a British Open champion -- hell, some of these caddies were All-Americans. So just so you know, nobody here gives a damn if you're an All-American, or if you even to college at all. All anybody here here wants to know ... can you play stick?"
THAT IS EXACTLY MY POINT! Yes, you guys are great, and yes, it seems the college and amateur players have lost that ability to be scared by practically anything (English averaged 327 yards per poke last week in Columbus!), but you still are playing against guys that were as good, if not better, than you in college, and have been doing the pro thing for years. They spend countless hours with the best teachers in the world getting their equipment spec'd by guys that have been tweaking clubs longer than most college players have been alive, and everything they work on is in hopes that they make one more putt a round, or hit one more green a tournament. In college you're playing against the best golfers in the world at that level, and still only about 7 percent of them will ever play in a PGA Tour event.
I love that they're cocky, and it's awesome to see this type of talent coming out of our universities, but saying you have the talent to compete with professional golfers at the highest level just shows exactly how naive you are and just how much you have to learn. You know the last amateur to win a PGA Tour event? A guy by the name of Phil Mickelson. You know how old he is now? 41, and any college golfer in the world would give their ability to hit the long ball if it meant having 1/20th the career Mr. Mickelson put together.
For more debate on the amateurs thinking they're better than the pros, check out the Teeing Off this week on Devil Ball Golf.