Cantlay edges Rahm for US Tour Championship

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Patrick Cantlay poses with the FedExCup trophy
  • Post published:September 6, 2021

Patrick Cantlay held off top-ranked Jon Rahm to win the US PGA Tour Championship this past Sunday and claim the $15-million FedEx Cup playoffs top prize.

Cantlay two-putted for birdie at the par-five 18th to cap a one-under-par 69 that gave him a 21-under-par total and a one-shot victory over Spain’s Rahm, who made the second birdie of his two under 68 at the final hole to finish on 20 under.

“I played great today. It hasn’t even sunk in yet,” Cantlay said. “I just kept telling myself to focus and lock in and I did a great job of that today.”

While Cantlay had said throughout that he was trying to approach each round as usual and tune out the prospect of a monster payday, he admitted that it wasn’t just another week.

“It was tough,” he said. “It was definitely different than any other week.

“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 of days I made some mistakes I don’t usually make and I was able to really centre myself and hit a lot of good shots when I needed to.”

Cantlay came into the tournament staked to a two-shot lead – and a four-stroke advantage over Rahm – under the staggered scoring system that awarded the 30 starters strokes based on their place in the playoff standings.

He led every day, with Rahm pushing hard but unable to get past him.

Cantlay’s third bogey of the day at the par-four 17th shrunk his lead to one, the American doing well to limit the damage after going right off the tee from where his second shot bounced through the green.

He responded with a booming drive up the middle of the fairway at the par-five 18th, where he two-putted for birdie from 11 feet.

Rahm pushed to the bitter end, his second shot at 18 tracking the pin only to bounce through the green and into the greenside rough from where he got up and down for birdie.

Rahm’s only other birdie was a tap-in at the 5th hole.

“A couple of shots I keep going back, that stretch of 10, 11, 12, I was in position to put a little bit of pressure and I just didn’t,” Rahm said. “But, at the same time, I shot my lowest score ever for four days on this golf course, which has usually been a challenge for me.”

In fact, Rahm’s 72-hole total of 266 was actually three shots lower than Cantlay’s 269.

But the Spaniard went into the event four adrift in the staggered start system.

Asked if he felt “in his heart of hearts” that he had won the tournament, Rahm said: “No. Because I didn’t. That’s the reason why we have this system we have. In scoring when they show you the sheets and points, it felt really weird to have this feeling of disappointment of not winning on a day you are making $5m.

“Then I’m thinking, you know, yeah, I gave it my all. It wasn’t enough.”

Rahm said Cantlay – who was atop the FedEx Cup standings after an epic playoff win over Bryson DeChambeau at last week’s BMW Championship – had earned the victory.

“Patrick played great golf, and he was four shots ahead of me, and even though I might have been the better man over the week, he earned it.

“He played amazing,” Rahm said. “That up and down after missing from 17, the second shot from 18 to almost make it is even more impressive. I think you can say he won this. He played amazing golf.”

American Kevin Na finished alone in third after a closing 67 that put him at 16 under par.

Former FedEx Cup champion Justin Thomas fired a two-under 70 to finish fourth on 15 under.


Photo: EPA/Erik S. Lesser