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Peter Uihlein forgoes college for pro ranks

Top U.S. amateur Peter Uihlein

Harry How/2011 Getty Images

Peter Uihlein has decided to leave school early and turn professional in 2012, signing on with Chubby Chandler's International Sports Management group.

The former world number one ranked amateur will make his professional debut in Abu Dhabi at the end of January with the goal of playing primarily on the European Tour next year.

"It is a pioneering move by him - the obvious step would have been to try to establish his career in the United States," said Chandler. "Having seen players like Lee Westwood, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen and Darren Clarke build careers by playing all over the world, including America, Peter has been encouraged by that.

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"I'm sure that he will benefit enormously from the experience."

Uihlein, who failed to get past the second stage at both PGA Tour Q-School and European Tour Q-School this year, says he wanted a full year of play as a pro rather than join the professional ranks mid-season following college.

The 22-year-old also shot down suggestions that his father, Acushnet CEO Wally Uihlein, played a big role in his decision to turn pro.

"The decisions that I make are always my decisions. My dad is one of my sounding boards. For years, players have been asking my dad for advice, so logically I am going to take advantage of that same opportunity."

Uihlein is eligible for seven sponsor's exemptions on the European and PGA Tours. Chandler has already "guaranteed" he'll play in seven tournaments by April. If he manages to equal or better the money earned by the player who finished 115th on the European Tour Order of Merit, 258,939 Euros, Uihlein will earn his Tour card for the remainder of the year.

He'll be hoping to chart the same path that fellow pros Adam Scott, Graeme McDowell and most recently Rory McIlroy carved out for themselves by winning on the European circuit before taking their game to the PGA Tour.

McIlroy made the decision earlier this year to leave Chandler's ISM stable in order to sign with Dublin-based Horizon Sports Management.

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"The PGA European Tour plays all over the world from the United Kingdom to China, from Korea to South Africa and from the Middle East to Southeast Asia," he said. "Those players who have played on the Tour, and who are still members, make for a pretty impressive list.

"I just feel the ISM team is well-positioned to help me achieve my goals."

The top four players in the world will be in the field in Abu Dhabi, along with Tiger Woods who will also be making his 2012 season debut.

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