Caleb Surratt details journey leaving Tennessee, joining LIV Golf: ‘Conversations were a bit difficult’

It wasn’t until three weeks ago it became official Caleb Surratt would join LIV Golf for the 2024 season.

The sophomore at Tennessee and reigning SEC individual champion had finished playing in the Jones Cup Invitational, which would be his final event as an amateur, though he didn’t know it then. He was spending time with his girlfriend when he received a call that would change his life.

He was joining LIV Golf and would be on the same team as Jon Rahm.

“It’s obviously been a whirlwind of events,” said Surratt, who was ranked 10th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. “You go from moving out of your dorm room to competing with the best players in the world, and having two of them truly being your daily mentors on the golf course, it seemed like a big opportunity for me and my golf game, and of course everybody is going to be entitled to their opinion, but I have no doubt that this is what was best for me and my golf game and the future of my professional career.”

However, that doesn’t mean leaving Tennessee was easy for Surratt.

He was the best player on the Volunteers and a team leader. Last year, he became the first player in Tennessee history to earn first-team All-America honors. He was a member of the 2023 Walker Cup team and proven as one of the top amateurs in the world.

However, it wasn’t just Surratt who was making the decision.

“The conversations were a bit difficult,” he said. “I would say it was kind of tough to break the news because it’s a big change. I’m on a very highly competitive college golf team that I was the leader of, and to kind of have to step up and leave, it’s tough. One thing that I made very well a point was to not just break the news to them and say I’m leaving. It was more of including everybody that was close to me and on my team in my decision. It was a team decision. It was a group decision. It was not just Caleb Surratt saying what Caleb Surratt wants.”

When news dropped Tuesday of Surratt joining LIV Golf, Tennessee Golf’s social media accounts were one of the first to congratulate him on his move.

Surratt is not the first highly-ranked amateur to turn professional and join LIV Golf. David Puig and Eugenio Chacarra, the latter who won in LIV’s inaugural season, set the trail for top amateurs to join the breakaway circuit.

Come Friday, Surratt will tee it up at LIV Golf Mayakoba in Mexico on Rahm’s Legion XIII for his first professional start. Also on the team is Tyrrell Hatton, No. 16 in the world, and Kieran Vincent.

There have been plenty of changes in his life recently, but the foundations he built at Tennessee and before are guiding him in his newest chapter.

“I had all the support in the world from my teammates,” Surratt said. “I had all the support in the world from my coaches, and I think everybody sees how great of an opportunity this is, and myself more than anybody, just couldn’t be more excited for it.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek