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Former Vol Caleb Surratt returns to Tennessee

Former Vol Caleb Surratt returns to Tennessee

NASHVILLE — Across professional golf’s great divide, there’s Caleb Surratt. Barely age 20, supremely gifted and LIV-ing it up in a fashion unimaginable just a few years ago.

In that world before LIV Golf, Surratt would have just finished his sophomore season at Tennessee. He’d be well on his way to the most accomplished men’s golf career in Vols history, having been an All-American and the SEC’s individual champion and freshman of the year in 2023. At the time, Surratt was one of the world’s best amateur players.

And that’s why he’s no longer an amateur.

In January, Surratt signed with LIV Golf, accepting an offer to leave school at 19 and turn pro. As a part of Jon Rahm’s LIV team, he’ll chip and putt for good ol’ Legion XIII.

Surratt was at The Grove on Monday, teeing it up there for the first time to help promote the Nashville area’s new LIV event.

“What every young player wants, right, is a place to play professional golf?” Surratt told me beforehand. “It’s not too often that you’re given an opportunity like this as a top college player. So to be able to receive that, it was a no-brainer for me, and I’m very thankful for it.”

As a leading figure in a tantalizing generation of up-and-coming talent in golf (and, of late, in SEC golf), Surratt thrived on last year’s victorious U.S. Walker Cup team alongside other future stars like Alabama’s Nick Dunlap and Vanderbilt’s Gordon Sargent.

While Sargent announced in April that he’d return to Vanderbilt for his senior season, thus putting off joining the PGA Tour for a year, Dunlap abruptly turned pro after a stunning victory in January as an amateur at the PGA Tour’s American Express.

Barely a week later, Surratt joined his friend Dunlap in turning pro. Though, Surratt said, the timing of the two “was just a coincidence.”

Caleb Surratt tees off on the 11th tee on the Nicklaus Tournament Course at the American Express in La Quinta, California. (Photo: Jay Calderon/Desert Sun)

“I can honestly say that in December I had no idea this was going to happen,” Surratt said of the LIV deal. “… I was focused on college golf. I was focused on what it was going to look like a few years down the road when I would turn pro. When the opportunity came, it was just too good to be true. I wasn’t expecting it. It came out of nowhere.”

By late January, there were rumbles about Surratt and LIV. They’d been fueled in part by the fact that during Dunlap’s…

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