One had a remarkable short game. The other tried to overwhelm Caves Valley Golf Club, site of the BMW Championship, the second of three events that make up the FedExCup. In the end, it was Cantlay who won the epic battle that lasted sixth playoff holes.
DeChambeau, ranked 6th in the world, traded putts with Cantlay for five holes of the playoff. It has been a tough few months for the big-hitting golfer after splitting with his caddie at a tournament in Detroit, getting Covid-19 and having to skip the Olympics, and then making remarks about the Covid vaccine that rankled many. He didn’t speak to the print media for most of the BMW Championship, despite nearly shooting 59 in the second round.
Cantlay’s putting was electric, recording incredible numbers through most of the tournament, including Sunday. He had 11 strokes gained putting through the first two rounds, and continued his incredible work with his putter in the final round, making five birdies in the final eight holes to push DeChambeau into a playoff.
“I felt like I just tried to stay in my own little world,” Cantlay said immediately after the round. “My game feels really good. It has for a while. I’m starting to putt like me again.”
Cantlay faced a 54-foot putt on the second playoff hole and that’s when his magical flatstick ability, that saw him make more than 500-feet of putts, deserted him. After holing must-make putts throughout the round, Cantlay’s birdie putt came up short, but he made another must-make putt for par. In the meantime, DeChambeau hit his approach on the hole to six-feet, but couldn’t find the cup, forcing the third playoff hole.
The pair split that hole, the par-3 17th, after DeChambeau’s putt for the win lipped out. They returned to the 18th hole, and this time DeChambeau’s big drive found the creek of the right of the fairway, while Cantlay hit the middle of the fairway with his drive. Cantlay’s approach came up 22-feet from the hole, but he failed to make his birdie, while DeChambeau hit his approach close and made his par putt to push it to a fifth playoff hole.
On the fifth playoff hole, heading back to the par-3 17th, DeChambeau backed up a wedge to five feet, but Cantlay hit his 8-iron to three feet. Both made their birdie putts, moving the playoff to an epic sixth hole. Cantlay holed a long putt for birdie on the 18th hole, while DeChambeau couldn’t match him, with his putt sliding by on the right giving Cantlay the win.
What it means
Cantlay leads the FedExCup heading into the Tour Championship, with DeChambeau ranked third.
Patrick Cantlay What’s in the bag
Driver: Titleist TS3 9.5 degrees
3-wood: Titleist 915F 15 degrees
Hybrid: Titleist 816 H2 21 degrees
Irons: Titleist 718 AP2 4-9
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 (46, 52 and 56 degrees), and Titleist Vokey SM8 (61 degrees)
Putter: Scotty Cameron Phantom X 5
Golf ball: Titleist Pro V1
Two Canadians were in the field this week, Corey Conners from Listowel, Ont., and Mackenzie Hughes from Dundas, Ont. Conners finished at 14-under in a tie for 22nd, and sits in the 21st spot heading into the Tour Championship. Hughes needed a big week and couldn’t quite come through, finishing in a tie for 52nd at 5-under, and in 67th place. He’ll miss the Tour Championship, but made $1.8-million in earnings and is nearing the Top 50 in the world.
Phil Mickelson couldn’t get it done and won’t move on, despite having one a major championship this year. Other notables who failed to advance include Lee Westwood and Webb Simpson.
Rory McIlroy might be still looking for a 3-wood after launching it onto the Jersey Turnpike, but he made a big move on Sunday, jumping 12 spots to sneak into the Tour Championship. Similarly, Erik van Rooyen moved 18 spots with a 5th-place showing, and Sergio Garcia moved up 16 places to make the FedExCup finale after tying for 6th.
The Top 30 players qualified for the Tour Championship in Atlanta this coming week.
British Columbia’s Adam Svensson won the Korn Ferry Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship. Svensson, who had previously played on the PGA Tour, had already qualified to move back this coming season, but the win puts him in a position to improve his status for the 2021-22 year. Mike Gligic, from Burlington, Ont., who played on the PGA Tour this past season, recorded a tie for 10th and moved inside the Top 25 to get their PGA Tour status for next season.