Patrick Cantlay delivers clutch putting for signature win

Aug 29, 2021, 11:33 AM | Updated: Aug 30, 2021, 1:12 pm

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — No one ever questioned that Patrick Cantlay had the chops to be among golf’s elite.

What he might have lacked in number of PGA Tour victories, he made up for it with the way he won or the field he beat. His victory Sunday in the BMW Championship — the fifth of his career and his PGA Tour-leading third of the season — was a little of each.

On a Caves Valley course that suited the biggest hitters, facing the biggest masher of them all in Bryson DeChambeau, he delivered a moment that will be remembered for the ice in his veins and nerves of steel.

He really only smiled after he made the last of six pivotal putts on the final nine holes — six of them in a sudden-death playoff.

“I’m just as focused as I can be. If I look the way I do, it’s because I am locked in and focused,” Cantlay said. “And I felt like that today.”

Even more remarkable is that Cantlay had plenty of occasions to believe he wouldn’t be winning the BMW Championship, yet it only crossed his mind once.

That came on the second playoff hole when he hit his approach heavy and came up 55 feet short of the hole. DeChambeau, who had a 30-yard advantage off the tee on the 18th hole, hit wedge into 6 feet.

“I liked Bryson’s chances of making that 6-footer up the hill,” Cantlay said. “I thought he was going to make that putt. That was maybe the only time that I really thought I was done. But he didn’t make it. That’s golf.”

As for the other times? Right when Cantlay looked to be done, he was clutch.

DeChambeau took a one-shot lead on the par-5 16th with a 12-foot putt, and Cantlay still faced an 8-foot par putt to avoid falling two behind. He made it.

On the next hole, Cantlay’s tee shot bounced short and right and into the water, with DeChambeau in the rough just short of the green, about 25 feet from the hole. Cantlay removed his cap and slowly tugged it over his head. Surely, it was over.

But then DeChambeau muffed his chip and missed his 12-footer for par. Cantlay hit lob wedge from 100 yards away in the drop area and slid in the bogey-saving putt from 8 feet.

“I got to thinking, ‘Let’s try and make 4 here and at least not take all the pressure off of him.’ We both had 4s on that hole, and that really kept me in the golf tournament, kind of switched the momentum a little bit,” Cantlay said. “It would have been almost insurmountable if I would have went down two going into 18.”

The biggest was the 20-foot birdie putt he made on the 18th in regulation, the only reason he got into a playoff with a 6-under 66 to match DeChambeau’s score for the round and the astounding total of 27-under 261.

And even then, there was no relief.

Cantlay missed the 18th green to the left in the playoff and had to make a 6-footer for par to extend the playoff. He made the 7-footer on the next hole. And on the fifth extra hole, DeChambeau looked like a winner again when he hit wedge to 6 feet.

Cantlay hit 8-iron to 2 feet. On they went until Cantlay ended it with his 18-foot birdie putt, two fist pumps as he walked to the hole and perhaps his biggest of five victories.

He won earlier this season at the Zozo Championship in California, making up a four-shot deficit to beat Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm. He won the Memorial for a second time in early June with a 25-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole that led to a playoff win over Collin Morikawa.

This was special, and a couple of fans spotted it from outside the ropes by shouting out to him, “Patty Ice.”

He was ice, all right.

DeChambeau was anything but that. He had four putts to win, three of them in the playoff, and the biggest miss was the last one from inside 10 feet that would have extended the playoff.

Knowing exactly what went wrong will have to wait. DeChambeau, who has refused to speak to media except for PGA Tour broadcast partners, chose not to speak to anyone Sunday.

It wasn’t the only time he appeared bothered. He rolled his eyes each time Cantlay marked a short par putt along the front nine (sometimes that reference to “ice” could also mean “glacier”). And then on the 14th hole as DeChambeau was preparing to hit, he backed off and said, “Patrick, can you stop walking?”

“We had just been told by the rules officials to kind of speed up, and I’m not always the fastest walker, so I was trying to get ahead and do my part,” Cantlay said. “No big deal.”

Winning was a big deal. It moved him to the top of the FedEx Cup going to the Tour Championship, meaning he starts with at two-shot lead. He earned the final spot on the Ryder Cup team.

He can attribute that to clutch putts, even if Cantlay couldn’t identify the biggest one.

“They all mattered, I guess, the same,” he said. “I needed all of them.”


More AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

7 months ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

7 months ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

7 months ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

7 months ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

7 months ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

7 months ago

Patrick Cantlay delivers clutch putting for signature win