Patrick Cantlay’s days of being considered a sleeper could be numbered, but I’ll allow him in that category this week. He became the first player since Tiger Woods in 2008 to qualify for the Tour Championship in 12 or fewer starts.
The former No. 1 amateur has been on hard times with injuries and personal loss in recent years. He looks to ready to put both in the past, at least based on his performance on the course.
The 25-year-old Californian hasn’t missed a cut in 12 starts all year. Not one! For his efforts he’s risen from No. 1,866 to No. 76 in the world rankings since the end of 2016.
Cantlay began the FedEx Cup Playoffs at No. 78 in the standings and had to grind all the way until the 72nd hole at last week’s BMW Championship to reach East Lake this week. A birdie on the last pushed him to a T9 finish and No. 29 in the standings for his first Tour Championship appearance.
He didn’t know for sure that the birdie would get him in, but he knew it was important.
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“I figured a birdie would be close. I knew I was out,” Cantlay said in his press conference as transcribed by ASAP Sports. “I didn’t know it would for sure get me in or anything but I knew it was really close and I definitely needed it.”
Cantlay has not finished outside the top 48 in any event this season and has four top-10s, two coming in the playoffs.
The UCLA alum has a well-rounded game as demonstrated by his No. 7 rank on the PGA Tour in total strokes gained.
His chances of winning the FedEx Cup are virtually zero, but he could pick up his first PGA Tour win this week en route to becoming the first player to win the Tour Championship in his first start there in the playoffs era.
Past winners at East Lake usually had strong putting weeks on the way to victory.
Cantlay is 43rd in strokes gained putting and showed he can hit the clutch putt when he needs it. I like him to continue his impressive play this week.
With no true “dark horses” left in the field, who do you like to come out on top at the TOUR Championship? Let us know in the comments below, or reach us on Facebook or Twitter @ProGolfNow!