Petersson Puts Pro Career on Hold to Play Elite Amateur Events
August 17, 2016 | Bloomfield Township, Mich.
By Stuart Hall
Robin Petersson, with a newly earned college degree in hand, is not ready to join the traditional workforce. A professional golf career is still his goal.
But in May, after graduating from Augusta (Ga.) University, Petersson did not have any professional playing status; the qualifying tournaments were still months away and the appeal of grinding on mini-tours was minimal.
“Or I could stay amateur for a while and play the best tournaments in the world,” said Petersson, 24, of Sweden, who chose the latter option.
After a summer of playing in England and France, representing Europe and his native Sweden in team play, Petersson, No. 32 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking™, now finds himself among the amateur game’s elite at the 116th U.S. Amateur Championship at Oakland Hills Country Club.
“Being in this environment where you have the absolute top of the world … that’s what makes these tournaments so much fun to play in,” Petersson said.
“I assume most of these players want to reach the PGA Tour and to be able to see that most every week and be around that, it makes you realize how good or bad you really are and what areas your need to improve.”
Petersson, the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Player of the Year this spring, experienced the good with the bad during stroke play.
On Monday, he shot a 5-under 65 on the North Course in his USGA championship debut. On Tuesday, he persevered through a 5-over 75 on the taxing South Course. Combined, Petersson’s even-par 140 tied for 30th and advanced him to Wednesday’s Round of 64 against Jimmy Stanger, of Tampa, Fla.
Petersson is still learning the nuances of match play, but he compiled a combined 4-3-1 record in England earlier this summer. He helped Europe defeat the United States in the Arnold Palmer Cup and tie Great Britain & Ireland in the St. Andrews Trophy.
“I want to say no [I am not a good match-play player] to be humble,” he said, “but my goal this week was to make match play because anything can happen.
“It’s going to be interesting knowing what the result is at all times. You’re no longer playing the course, but your opponent.”
Petersson was introduced to golf when he was 11, tagging along with a friend to a “pay and play” a golf course at home in Sweden one summer. The buddies bought tokens for range balls, borrowed some clubs and Petersson “started going every day.” His father later bought him a set of clubs and a membership.
“I was hooked,” said Petersson, who had grown up playing soccer. “When I found golf, I could make my own schedule; I didn’t have to rely on anyone else and this is exactly what I want. And I’ve always been a very independent person.”
Though not a highly touted junior golfer, when Petersson readied for college and began sending out letters and applications, he contacted a fellow Swede who was attending Augusta. The friend passed along Petersson’s results to then-coach Josh Gregory and “we kept the conversation going,” he said.
Petersson now wants to extend his week.
“We’ll see,” he said. “Should be great fun.”
Stuart Hall is a North Carolina-based freelance writer whose work frequently appears on USGA websites.