DUBLIN, OHIO — The leaderboards positioned at vital junctures of a skilled golf event are greater than scoreboards. They are omnipresent yardsticks measuring the rhythm of the contest with hole-by-hole counts for the prime golfers, collectively meant to inform the complete story of the occasion.
But Sunday in the last spherical of the Memorial Tournament, there was a jarring omission from each leaderboard, a identify conspicuously lacking.
Patrick Cantlay gained the 2021 Memorial, out-dueling Collin Morikawa in a see-saw battle that included one further playoff gap, however the heart-rending story of the occasion will all the time be the Saturday night withdrawal of Jon Rahm, who had examined optimistic for coronavirus. Rahm, the defending Memorial champion, was knowledgeable of his take a look at consequence at the finish of the third spherical as he left the 18th inexperienced with a commanding six-stroke lead. The event continued and Cantlay’s victory is not going to carry an asterisk in the PGA Tour file e book, nor ought to it.
But from the first holes performed on Sunday by Cantlay and Morikawa, who turned the third-round co-leaders after Rahm’s withdrawal, Rahm’s absence was acknowledged.
When Cantlay and Morikawa, who performed collectively, every bogeyed the first gap, there was a disquieting murmur in the crowd round the inexperienced that will have been a shared thought: If Rahm have been nonetheless in the subject, his lead may now have been seven strokes with 17 holes remaining.
Play continued and Cantlay and Morikawa ultimately placed on a good present. They made the flip nonetheless tied for the lead and prolonged their head-to-head match for greater than two hours. The event didn’t lack drama. Its lasting picture, nonetheless, will almost definitely be Rahm doubled over in tears.
A spirited crowd at the Muirfield Village Golf Club in the Columbus suburbs warmed to the taut competitors in the closing holes, even when soaked by rain late in the afternoon.
Cantlay, left, strains up his putt on No. 2 as Collin Morikawa repairs a ball divot.Credit…Tannen Maury/EPA, by way of Shutterstock
Morikawa held the lead for many of the again 9, edging forward on par-5 No. 11 by sinking a seven-foot birdie putt that put him again at 12-under par for the event, which is the place he and Cantlay started the day. Cantlay threatened to catch Morikawa on the 12th gap when his 42-foot putt for birdie skirted the left fringe of the gap. But on the subsequent inexperienced, Cantlay coolly stroked a 17-foot uphill putt for a birdie that tied Morikawa.
Scottie Scheffler joined Morikawa and Cantlay at the prime of the leaderboard at 12-under par when he almost holed his second shot from 131 yards at the par-Four 14th gap and was left a tap-in birdie putt. Scheffler hung in for a number of holes earlier than faltering with a bogey on the 18th.
Morikawa regained the lead at the par-5 15th gap when he delicately pitched from a unhealthy lie in deep tough close to the inexperienced then sank an eight-foot birdie putt. That lead held up till the 17th gap when Cantlay rolled in a twisting 23-foot birdie putt to tie Morikawa, who needed to make an 11-foot par putt to remain even with Cantlay.
At the 18th gap, each gamers sliced their drives proper of the fairway. From the tough, Cantlay nonetheless knocked his second shot pin excessive on the elevated, two-tiered last inexperienced. His attempt for birdie simply skirted the proper fringe of the gap. Morikawa hit his second shot into a greenside bunker and his restoration from the sand left him a nervy three-foot try for par that he transformed to ship the competitors to a playoff. Both golfers had shot a one-under par 71 for 13-under par.
Replaying the 18th gap, Morikawa’s method shot from the fairway missed the inexperienced quick and left, whereas Cantlay did the similar from the proper tough. Morikawa’s pitch from deep tough settled six toes from the gap. Blasting from a greenside bunker, Cantlay skittered a shot that ran 12 toes previous the gap however his right-to-left par putt tracked into the heart of the gap.
Morikawa’s par putt to increase the competitors rolled previous the left fringe of the gap.
Both Morikawa and Cantlay had shaky begins to the last spherical. In addition to bogeying the first gap, Morikawa bungled the par-Three fourth gap when he missed a five-foot par putt. Morikawa birdied the fifth gap however carded his third bogey in six holes when he flubbed a chip close to the sixth inexperienced and badly misjudged a 10-foot putt. He made a putt of comparable size simply to save lots of bogey.
From there, Morikawa discovered some consistency to his swing and his quick sport.
Cantlay reacting to his birdie putt on No. 17. Credit…Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Cantlay birdied the second gap however then gave that stroke again on the subsequent gap with a bogey arrange by a wayward tee shot into the tough. An errant method shot to the par-5 fifth inexperienced bounded into a bunker and led to a disappointing par however Cantlay rolled in a curving, right-to-left 10-foot birdie putt on the sixth gap.
At the seventh gap, Cantlay once more squandered a possibility to make the most of a par-5 when his tee shot skidded into a fairway bunker and his escape from that hazard additionally ended up in the tough. He saved par. Worse, at the ninth gap, he three-putted from 40 toes for bogey.
For Cantlay, 29, it was his fourth PGA Tour victory and the second time he has gained the Memorial since 2019. Cantlay’s final victory was the Zozo Championship in October 2020. Ranked 15th in the world earlier than the Memorial Tournament, Cantlay this 12 months has had two top-five finishes and 5 in the prime 20.