Patrick Cantlay delivers another clutch moment to win Tour Championship

by 24USATVSept. 6, 2021, 4 a.m. 19
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Patrick Cantlay delivered the goods again, this time with a six-iron instead of a putter.

“Patty Ice” was just as clutch with a $15 million shot that allowed him to hold off Jon Rahm and win the FedEx Cup on Sunday.

In a tense duel with the world’s No. 1 player, Cantlay had a one-shot lead going to the par-five 18th hole at the Tour Championship when he hit six-iron from 218 yards to just inside 12 feet that secured the biggest victory of his career.

“Felt like a huge win, and it was,” Cantlay said.

Rahm’s shot was equally special, landing next to the hole on its second bounce but rolling to the light rough beyond the green.

With Cantlay in close, the Spaniard had to hole the chip to have any chance of a playoff. He narrowly missed, and Cantlay safely two-putted for birdie and one-under 69.

The victory was worth $15 million for Cantlay, a 29-year-old Californian whose rise in golf was slowed by a back injury that kept him out for three years and nearly ended his career.

Now he has stamped himself among the elite in golf, boosted by the FedEx Cup postseason.

Cantlay, a Long Beach native and a former standout at UCLA, showed remarkable grit in surviving a six-hole playoff to beat Bryson DeChambeau in the BMW Championship last week to take the No. 1 seed and a two-shot lead to start the Tour Championship. He never flinched over four days at East Lake.

Rahm, who started the tournament four shots behind and went into the final day two back, never caught Cantlay. He never let him breathe easy, either.

Cantlay took a two-shot lead with an approach to six feet for birdie on the 17th hole, and then nearly lost it all. He drove to the right on the 17th, clipping a tree and dropping down into deep rough, and then hit a flyer over the green and the gallery. His pitch back to the green came up short and into more deep rough, and he had to make a six-footer to save bogey and stay ahead.

With Rahm well down the 18th fairway, Cantlay hit his best drive of the day, rolling out 361 yards that set up a six-iron he felt he needed to hit close.

Rahm was bogey-free over the last 28 holes, but he only cashed in on two birdies. He closed with a 68 and tied with Kevin Na for the 72-hole score of the tournament at 14-under 266. They will split points toward the world ranking.

Cantlay started at 10-under par and finished at 21 under.

Rahm earned the $5 million consolation prize for finishing second in the FedEx Cup, while Na (67) picked up $4 million. Justin Thomas (70) birdied the last hole to finish fourth, which was worth $4 million.

This was more than about money for Cantlay.

He won for the fourth time this season — one of those at the Memorial, when Rahm had to withdraw after building a six-shot lead after 54 holes because of a positive COVID-19 test results — and no one else won more than twice.

That figures to make him a front-runner for PGA Tour player of the year, with Rahm (U.S. Open title, No. 1 ranking) and Collin Morikawa (British Open, World Golf Championship title), also likely to be on the ballot.

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