Cantlay came through a final-round tussle with Jon Rahm to win the FedExCup at the season-ending Tour Championship at East Lake; the 29-year-old has risen to the top of the game after having two years off due to a back injury
Last Updated: 06/09/21 11:12am
Patrick Cantlay says the “dark days” he has experienced throughout his career make his victory at the season-ending Tour Championship even more special.
Cantlay, 29, held off Jon Rahm at East Lake to win the FedExCup and its $15m jackpot. It is his fourth title of an impressive PGA Tour season, and brings his journey full-circle after his future in the game looked in doubt not long ago.
Cantlay was a top-ranked amateur in the USA but his professional career was threatened by a back injury that kept him from playing for two years. Now he’s healthy and winning the biggest prizes in the game.
“The biggest thing is it’s given me great perspective,” said Cantlay, who is now ranked No 4 in the world.
“I think for a long time, everything just went great. Growing up, I felt like I got better and better in golf and life got better and better, and then it got as bad as it could have been. I felt as low as it could have been for a little while.
“Coming out on the other side of that, I feel like I am a better person having gone through those dark days. But it gives me great perspective, and it makes me very grateful to be in the position I’m in, because it wasn’t always a sure thing. I was very close to going back to school and putting golf behind me.
“And so, I’m just very grateful to be where I am and I’m so satisfied with all the hard work paying off.”
Cantlay took a two-shot advantage into the final day of the Tour Championship and never lost his lead throughout a gripping Sunday.
Reflecting on his battle with Rahm and the rest of the best players in the world this year, he said: “I think it’s really fun. It’s exactly why I play golf. I play golf so I can be in those moments against the best players in the world. It’s why I practice so hard.
“It’s why I’m in love with the game because it’s that great vehicle for competition. It maybe makes it a little sweeter knowing that the guys I played against are the best players in the world.”
Cantlay now plans to take a short break before heading to Whistling Straits to compete for Team USA in the Ryder Cup, which starts on September 24, live on Sky Sports. He secured the final automatic spot on the team by winning the BMW Championship last month.
Asked about the significance of his Tour Championship win, he said: “It’s such a great honour because it’s all year. I played really consistent and caught fire at the end. It’s a lot of satisfaction considering all the hard work I put in all my life.
“As tough as the tough times were, they made me who I am. I can only thank all the people who helped me get through that time and helped me get here.
“I’m very grateful and happy to be here, and I’m really proud of myself for staying in the moment and delivering when it counted.”
World No 1 Rahm started the week four shots behind Cantlay and shot a 68 on Sunday to keep himself in contention.
However, he couldn’t overhaul Cantlay at the top of the leaderboard as the American kept his composure to clinch the title and become the first player with four or more victories in a season since Justin Thomas in 2016/17.
“Patrick played great golf,” said Rahm.
“Even though I might have been the better man over the week, he earned it. He played amazing. That up-and-down after missing [the first chip on] 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.
“It felt really weird to have this feeling of disappointment of not winning on a day you are making $5m.”
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