ATLANTA — Given a head begin, Patrick Cantlay proved uncatchable at the season-ending Tour Championship.
Cantlay began the week at 10 below par and reached 21 below, by no means trailing for 72 consecutive holes to beat Jon Rahm of Spain, the world No. 1, by one stroke at the Tour Championship to win the FedEx Cup at East Lake Golf Club. Cantlay and Rahm dueled over the final three days, as Rahm saved whittling away at his preliminary four-shot deficit however might by no means draw even with Cantlay.
Cantlay’s lead was just one stroke after Rahm transformed a par after lacking an 11-foot putt for birdie on the 17th gap and Cantlay saved bogey from 6 toes. With $15 million and the FedEx Cup on the line, each gamers took lifeless purpose at the flag on the par-5 18th gap.
Rahm’s strategy from 238 yards skipped inside an inch of the flagstick and rolled out simply over the apron 18 toes previous the gap.
Cantlay stepped up and delivered a 6-iron from 218 yards that rolled 11 toes in need of the gap — the closest eagle likelihood of the day. When Rahm’s eagle chip try slid previous the cup, all Cantlay wanted to do was lag it to six inches to make birdie and safe his victory.
“It was the longest lead I’ve ever held, but I just tried to stay, day after day, in the present, and I did an amazing job of that this week because the last couple days I made some mistakes I don’t usually make and I was able to really center myself and hit a lot of good shots when I needed to,” Cantlay stated.
“It’s such a great honor because it’s all year and I played so consistent all year and just caught fire the last couple of weeks.”
In the 18 occasions during which Cantlay and Rahm each performed this season, Rahm completed forward of Cantlay in strokes 14 occasions — together with this week. But Rahm’s 14-under effort on the course was not sufficient to beat the four-shot cushion Cantlay began with on Thursday. Rahm and Kevin Na, the third-place finisher, shared the lowest gross scores, however neither was sufficient to utterly make up floor on Cantlay. Justin Thomas completed fourth.
“We had distanced ourselves from the field and it was like a one-on-one match play feel,” Cantlay stated of his duel with Jon Rahm, left, in the final spherical.Credit…Erik S Lesser/EPA, through Shutterstock
Cantlay began Sunday two up on Rahm and shortly prolonged his result in three with a birdie on the second gap. But his benefit was right down to a thin stroke as the gamers made the flip after Cantlay bogeyed the par-Three ninth gap.
Cantlay had an important likelihood to return up by two on the 13th, however his Four-foot birdie putt took a 90-degree flip round the lip and stayed out. It was a shocking miss from Cantlay, who set a PGA Tour file for strokes gained placing (14.68) when he made 537 toes of putts, together with each one that mattered down the stretch, final week at the BMW Championship in Maryland.
That hiccup didn’t final, as he buried putts of Four, 6 and 6 toes for par, birdie and bogey on 15, 16 and 17 to take his one-shot result in the par-5 18th tee.
“We had distanced ourselves from the field and it was like a one-on-one match play feel,” Cantlay stated.
Cantlay has lastly manifested as the drive he appeared destined to change into on tour. A decade in the past as a freshman at U.C.L.A., Cantlay ascended to the high of the novice and collegiate ranks, successful 4 tournaments and sweeping all of the status awards. He ranked as the No. 1 novice in the world a file 54 consecutive weeks and 55 total — a normal that held up till damaged by Rahm in 2016 — earlier than opting to forgo his closing two years of faculty eligibility and switch skilled in 2012 instantly after claiming the silver medal for low novice at the Masters.
It appeared a prudent step contemplating in his first 4 tour begins as an novice Cantlay completed no worse than 24th, together with a tie for 21st at the 2011 U.S. Open, and set an novice file for the lowest rating on the PGA Tour when he shot 60 at the Travelers Championship.
Cantlay was thought of can’t miss.
But neither golf nor life is that straightforward. A mix of bodily and emotional traumas formed Cantlay’s early improvement. A stress fracture in his decrease again derailed his transition nearly from the begin and affected his progress for 4 years, two of them (2015 and 2016) spent totally out of fee. During that interval, his greatest buddy and caddie, Chris Roth, died in his arms after a hit-and-run whereas crossing the avenue in Newport Beach, Calif., in 2016.
“I think as tough as the tough times were, they made me who I am,” Cantlay stated. “I’m a better person because of it and I thank all the people that really helped get me through that time and get me to the other side of it.”
Since returning to competitors in 2017 and reclaiming his card, Cantlay has been a gentle presence. He gained his first PGA Tour occasion at the finish of 2017 in Las Vegas and has by no means fallen out of the high 50 in the world since. He has persistently been round the high 10 earlier than final week’s playoff victory in the BMW Championship over Bryson DeChambeau vaulted him to a career-best No. Four.
At the different finish of the area, Joaquín Niemann performed alone after Brooks Koepka withdrew midround Saturday with an damage. Niemann determined to attempt to break Na’s file of enjoying 18 holes in 1 hour 59 minutes throughout a Tour Championship at East Lake. Running along with his caddie, Niemann shot 72 in 1:54 and completed 29th.
“When I was a kid I used to run a lot in high school and like track and field and stuff, but now I hate it,” he stated. “I don’t like running. I just did it for fun and it was pretty fun.”