At 19, Patrick Cantlay has had quite a summer. In June, the soon-to-be-a-sophomore at UCLA from Los Alamitos played in his first professional golf tournament, which just happened to be the U.S. Open. He not only made the cut into the final two rounds of the storied venue, but was the low amateur with an even-par 284 at the challenging Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland. The teenager’s scorecard (75-67-70-72, tied for 21st) was the best by a non-professional in four decades.At the Travelers Championship the next week, he managed to shoot a second-round 60, which put him — at least temporarily — into the lead. That was followed by a tie for 20th at the AT&T National, plus a dramatic win in the Southern California Association amateur championship, where he shot a final-round five-under-par 66 on Sunday at the San Gabriel Country Club.And then, to top off his “vacation,” on July 24 he tied for ninth at the Canadian Open, besting the likes of seasoned pros Ernie Ells, Rickie Fowler, Luke Donald and Jim Furyk. So what does the precocious teenager think of his amazing summer so far?“Yeah, it was fun,” the graduate of Servite High School in Anaheim told The Tidings. “I don’t know why I’ve done so well lately. You know, I’ve been practicing hard for a long time, and I’ve just been fortunate enough to play well. But I haven’t changed my game at all.”‘I’m pretty consistent’Cantlay, who has two younger brothers and a sister, learned to play golf when he was just two on his grandfather’s backyard putting green. It didn’t hurt that his dad, Steve, was a club champion at Long Beach’s Virginia Country Club. And since the age of nine, he has been mentored by swing coach Jamie Mulligan plus has been around golf professionals like John Cook and John Mallinger. The strongest part of his surging game?“I’m pretty consistent. I keep myself in play a lot,” said the 2010 California State High School champion. “I don’t hit too many way-off-line shots, and I make a lot of pars. You know, I just don’t do anything too poorly. Keeping the ball in play is very important, no matter what golf course you’re going to. It’s the key part of scoring. You know, you can’t play well from the rough.” “I learned a lot from Jamie, and I played a lot of competitive golf. So I know kind of how to prepare and get ready for every hole that I’m going to play. You just feel what the correct shot is and then try to play it to the best of your ability. I visualize where the ball should go. I don’t know, it just comes natural.”With the $140,000 he would have collected with his tied-for-ninth performance in the Canadian Open, Cantlay would have earned $356,000 this summer as a professional. But the teenager is determined to remain an amateur until he graduates from UCLA. “No one was asking me about turning pro two months ago,” he mused. “When I played in the U.S. Open, it wasn’t even a question. So, it’s just happened really fast and there’s no real reason why I should want to turn pro right now. I’m not even thinking about it or the money. I’m just playing golf and I’m playing my tournaments. And that’s been my plan for a while, so it’s still my plan right now.”‘A great run’UCLA head golf coach Derek Freeman doesn’t try to place limits on his players, but also refuses to have expectations for them. “I’ve been very happy with Patrick’s success and very happy for him because it has been a great run,” he said. “I think this is just the beginning for what he can do as a golfer. And more than anything, he’s just a good kid. He’s a very down-to-earth simple kid who just enjoys hanging out with his friends and having fun. He doesn’t get into trouble. He’s got his head on straight and he knows what he wants to do.“On the golf side of things, he’s just a very, very smart player and very mature,” Freeman pointed out. “It’s just how he’s grown up with his instructor. And he’s been around tour pros ever since he’s played the game. So he knows what they see, and he knows what they are looking at on a hole. And I think that’s a huge advantage. It’s just not something that is very common among young players.”Freeman says the 19-year-old phenom is already a very developed player who technique-wise understands his game probably better than any player he has ever coached. In particular, his middle-of-the-fairway drives and a frequently hot putter produce low scores. But the swing coach is equally impressed by Cantlay’s steadfast longing to stay an amateur. “I think it says a lot that he wants to come back to UCLA because he knows there are still things that he needs to learn and get better before he’s out there competing week-in and week-out for a living,” he said. “I think it says a lot that he thinks that UCLA can help him, make him better and this is a good environment for him to continue to pursue his dreams.“So, yeah, he could have earned a lot of money, but it’s not costing him, either. He doesn’t have that pressure of trying to earn a living out there. I think he just wants to be ready not only with his golf game, but he wants to make sure that he’s socially ready to survive on the tour. Because it’s a different lifestyle. But I think when the time comes, he could do amazing things.”Prep championPatrick Cantlay isn’t thinking about his long-term future at the moment. He is anticipating starting his second year of college in Westwood and seeing new-old friends. As for his education, he’s glad his parents — who are both USC graduates — sent him to Catholic school at St. Hedwig School in Los Alamitos and Servite High, an experience he says helped him grow up and mature along with his golf game.The teenager admits that during the first day at the U.S. Open, he had to pinch himself a little bit. “But I got used to it pretty quick,” he reported. “And, you know, I just tried to worry about my own deal and not anybody else. So it was a lot of fun.” {gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2011/0805/cantlay/{/gallery}