[PHOTO: Martin Dokoupil/Getty Images]

Karl Vilips’ journey to his professional debut took an unexpected twist this week as he launches the next phase of his career at The Beachlands Victoria Open in Canada.

A recent graduate of Stanford University, Vilips closed out his college career with victory at the 2024 Pac-12 Men’s Golf Championship in May. That result helped Vilips finish 10th in the PGA Tour University ranking and earn conditional status on the Korn Ferry Tour and fully exempt status on the PGA Tour of Americas.

A member of the Australian team that won silver at the World Amateur Teams Championship last October, Vilips had hoped to use his conditional Korn Ferry Tour status to qualify for this week’s Compliance Solutions Championship in Oklahoma.

As fellow Victorian Aiden Didone played his way into the field with a round of four-under 68 at the Monday qualifier, Vilips set course for Canada after his round of one-over 73. The 22-year-old would soon discover, however, that the best laid plans are not guaranteed in the world of pro golf.

“I played the Monday qualifier for the Compliance tournament in Oklahoma, the Korn Ferry event,” Vilips told PGA Tour of Americas. “Didn’t close well, so I didn’t make it.

“Booked a flight out of Dallas, yesterday, mid-morning. So we drove the three hours from Norman to Dallas and got to the airport for an 11:30am flight. Didn’t end up taking off until about 7 so we had to change my flight to Victoria to a later one, which we barely made.

“Ended up getting to the hotel at about 11:35 to midnight and obviously didn’t get to sleep for a little bit.

“My bags didn’t come in, which was just another bonus to the travel day we had. I had to pick those up this morning. Was fortunate enough to get tournament organisers to shift my pro-am tee-time around to the afternoon so I will be able to play the course and take a look at it.

“It’s been a hectic first week as a pro, I would say.”

Vilips was Australia’s highest-ranked player on the World Amateur Golf Ranking when he turned professional a fortnight ago. A strong finish to his four-year stint at Stanford saw him graduate from the amateur ranks No.12 in the world and ready to realise the promise he has displayed since his junior days.

The youngest competitor in Victorian pennant matches at just 9 years of age for Southern Golf Club in 2011, Vilips was the gold medal winner at the 2018 Youth Olympics, a two-time Junior Presidents Cup representative and qualified for last year’s US Open.

He is among a host of star amateurs to recently move into the pro ranks, including Maddison Hinson-Tolchard, Jye Pickin, Connor McDade, Jordan Doull and Blaike Perkins.