Wilson's golf and circumstance

PINEHURST, N.C. -- On Tuesday night, at a hotel near Pinehurst No. 2, Cameron Wilson took his last college final for his history degree at Stanford University.

The 21-year-old Rowayton, Connecticut, native printed out his Energy 102 exam in the business center of the hotel and emailed it back in a PDF to his professors in Palo Alto, California.

For his trip to Pinehurst, Wilson packed his cap and gown. On Sunday, he is to graduate with his twin sister, McKenzie. If he makes the cut in the U.S. Open, he plans to put the cap on when he comes off the 18th green.

"I don't want to think that far ahead," Wilson said. "It's a possibility. But I don't think I would ever put on the gown."

The left-hander, who won the NCAA men's individual championship on May 26 at Prairie Dunes in Hutchinson, Kansas, anticipated the conflicting dates, but he never considered not trying to qualify for the U.S. Open.

Wilson's mother, Myra Gelband, a longtime editor and reporter at Sports Illustrated, where she was a researcher for World Golf Hall of Fame columnist Dan Jenkins, will chaperone family and friends from across the country at this weekend's graduation activities. Wilson will miss a slew of dinners, parties and formal university functions.

"I knew this situation might get messy," he said. "But being here is more important for my future career plans.

"It's a no-brainer. If you're going to be a golfer, you have to give yourself a chance to play against the best players in the world."

Next, Wilson will turn pro in Cromwell, Connecticut, at the Travelers Championship, which has a long history of granting exemptions to promising young players. In 2011, Patrick Cantlay, then a 19-year-old amateur, shot a course-record 60 in the second round at TPC River Highlands.

In his senior year at Stanford, Wilson had 11 top-10 finishes, including the NCAA championship and two other wins. He joins Tiger Woods and Sandy Tatum as the only Stanford players to win the NCAA title.

This week marks Wilson's second U.S. Open appearance. In 2012, he made the field at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, where he missed the cut with consecutive 77s. Following a six-hole playoff win for first alternate at the Purchase, New York, sectional qualifier, he was added to the 156-player field at Pinehurst from a pool of alternates.

"I'm excited for the challenge at Pinehurst," Wilson said. "I think it's going to look great on TV. And I like that it's no traditional rough. I think it's the wave of the future.

"I think there are going to be a lot more golf courses that are built to use less water and are easier to maintain. My professors in Energy 102 would be happy that I'm thinking about [conservation] in this way. Maybe it can help me pass the class."

Tommy McDonagh, a former Penn State golfer, will be on Wilson's bag for the next two weeks. Then he will return to his job as a sales trader in a Greenwich, Connecticut-based broker dealer. McDonagh and Wilson grew up together at the Shorehaven Golf Course in East Norwalk, Connecticut.

On Thursday, Wilson is in the first group off the first tee at 6:45 a.m. ET with Daniel Berger and Brett Stegmaier. Come Sunday afternoon, Wilson would love to wear the low-amateur medal at the U.S. Open and put on his cap to acknowledge his college graduation.

"My game is good," Wilson said. "I have played good golf all year. I just hope that I can continue with it this week at Pinehurst.

"This is definitely one of the biggest weeks of my life, but all a part of a process of getting to the next stage."