After the top five or so players in this week’s power rankings, it really felt that there were about 20-plus guys who all could make a case for or against filling out the rest of the top 10.
I settled on Cantlay on pure talent and recent form in spite of three straight missed cuts at TPC Sawgrass since 2019.
We’ll start with the good. The Californian tends to play his best on the West Coast swing, so being in the mix last week en route to T-4th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational is a good sign.
Cantlay was just two shots off the winning pace at an event with a field featuring all the same big names assembled this week.
This came on the heels of a solo third at another designated event, the Genesis Invitational.
Cantlay is perhaps the best player on the PGA Tour without a win this season. He also took T-2nd at the Shriners Children’s Open.
Cantlay ranks seventh this season in total strokes gained per round (1.889) and is eighth in SG off-the-tee (.857). He’s top 50 in both driving accuracy and driving distance, which can be a big advantage at a course like this.
“It’s definitely a course that favors precision, so if you can hit your driver in the fairway, you can have lots of scoring opportunities,” Cantlay was transcribed by ASAP Sports in 2021.
"“You can take advantage of the par-5s if you play from the fairway. Even some of the harder holes are gettable if you drive the ball well. A Pete Dye golf course, I feel like it will show you one side with trouble and you almost have to ignore the big flashy trouble and hug the trouble, because the worst side will be the bailout side and once you bail out into the wrong, into the fat side, then the troubles start mounting.” – Patrick Cantlay"
Though the former UCLA Bruin missed the weekend the last three years at the Players Championship, he played well in his first two visits taking T-22nd in 2017 and T-23rd in 2018.
Not to mention, he was T-5th after a Thursday 67 in 2020 when the event was canceled.