By Tori Sisson
AUBURN, Ala. - Cydney Clanton, one of Auburn most decorated women's golfers, is enjoying her most successful season yet on the LPGA Tour.
A three-time All-American at Auburn, Clanton has earned three of her four career top 10 finishes in 2017 on her way to season earnings of $162,082 in 14 tournaments.
Hailing from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Auburn was not on Clanton's radar until she received a recruiting letter.
"I didn't even know where Auburn was or what Auburn was," said Clanton, a four-time All-SEC golfer from 2007-11.
"My mom actually opened the letter from Kim Evans and said, 'Hey we need to look into them, they're a top 10 college right now in women's golf,'" Clanton said. "So we took an interest, I went down, and absolutely loved the campus and loved the area."
Once Clanton arrived on the Plains, she instantly became an influential member on the golf team.
During her four years as a Tiger, the Tigers won two SEC Championships, including Clanton's fondest Auburn memory in 2011.
"We won the SEC title my senior year at home in Auburn and that was awesome," she said. "To be in Auburn and to win with the home crowd, win with all of our family there, that was probably the coolest thing."
Looking back, Clanton believes her time at Auburn, and in particular her role as a student-athlete, helped prepare her for the LPGA Tour.
"Juggling academics and college golf was definitely difficult," she said. "We're a two-season sport so we were fall and spring, so we never really got a break. I think it helped with setting priorities as in what was truly important, and that's helped with the outside world because in my world there's a lot of things that can kind of get in the way."
Clanton thinks the most valuable preparation she received from her time at Auburn was a work ethic that allowed her to excel.
"Out on the LPGA it's just a lot of golf, and we played a ton of golf when I was in school," she said. "My freshman year we played in six tournaments in the fall, which is the most tournaments you can play in the fall. So it kind of just prepared me to play a lot of golf, and to not necessarily worry about how you were hitting it, but to get it done that day."
Clanton thoroughly enjoys her time on the LPGA Tour, although success did not come immediately.
"It wasn't exactly what I expected," she said. "I had a really good college career and just kind of thought that it would tumble over into professional golf, and it didn't. It was kind of a shock to me and a shock to the system.
"But, I've learned a lot out here. I've learned a lot about myself. I've learned a lot about my ability to play, and I'm finally kind of getting in the groove and playing well this year so that's been nice."
Even when Clanton was not excelling, she never lost her love for the sport.
"The LPGA is a lot of golf, but it's a lot of fun--I still enjoy it," she said. "My dad asked me the other day if I still love golf as much as I did when I was a kid and I do one hundred percent. I couldn't do what I do if I didn't love it, so, it's fun. The LPGA has been awesome."