Patrick Cantlay may be the coolest man when under the gun on the PGA Tour and it showed all afternoon Sunday at East Lake as the poker-face ball striking machine outlasted the world’s No. 1 player, Jon Rahm, and captured the PGA Tour’s version of the Super Bowl — the FedEx Cup.
The final scoreboard looked like this:
21-under: Patrick Cantlay (67-66-67-69)
20-under: Jon Rahm (65-65-68-68)
16-under: Kevin Na (66-67-66-67)
15-under: Justin Thomas (67-67-65-70)
But wait, those numbers don’t add up.
Here’s what the scoreboard looked like, if, you know, this was an actual PGA Tour event where, you know — low score wins.
14-under: Tie: Jon Rahm (65-65-68-68); Kevin Na (66-67-66-67).
12-under: Tie: Xander Schauffele (68-69-67-64); Viktor Hovland (66-68-70-65)
11-under: Patrick Cantlay (67-66-67-69); Justin Thomas (67-67-65-70).
If it were an actual “low gross” competition and not “low net” — Rahm and Kevin Na would have been headed back up 18 for a playoff.
But no, Cantlay is your wire-to-wire 2021 Tour Championship winner and the overall FedEx Cup holder and $15 million will be wired into his account today.
“Patrick played great golf, and he was four shots ahead of me. And even though I might have been the better man over the week, he earned it,” runnerup Rahm said. “That up-and-down after missing from 17, the second shot from 18 to almost make it is even more impressive. “I think you can say he won this.”
Yes, by the head-scratching variation from the old standard “low score wins,” that is used in every other Tour event (except that Modified Stableford nonsense), Cantlay did win, he edged Rahm by a shot and Patrick needed everyone of those 10 shots he started with.
Rahm, whose putter let him down a bit on Sunday, tried his best but made up only three of the four shots he spotted Cantlay and when a guy like Cantlay is in the zone, that’s way too many.
Despite the “low net” format, it was still pretty testy and dramatic down the stretch. Cantlay led Rahm by a shot until he stuffed his approach to the 16th within six feet and made it for birdie to get to 21-under and led by two with two to play. But at 17, a really poor second left Cantlay with a near-impossible up-and-down and he made bogey. Rahm, on the other hand had a great look for birdie from 11 feet but failed to convert — it was his afternoon theme — his putter let him down.
Rahm had one last gasp after he hit a perfect second to 18, the closing par five that settled 18 feet from the cup on the short fringe — great look at eagle. But Cantlay, under the heat, hit an incredible second that stopped just 11 feet under the hole. “I had a feeling I needed at least birdie. I told myself he (Rahm) was gonna make that chip (for eagle) — he does stuff like that.”
But Rahm’s chip was just off the mark. Cantlay hit a layup putt that left him six inches for $15 million and he didn’t wait for Rahm — tap in for the win.
“I played consistent all year and kinda caught fire at the end,” Cantlay said after the huge win, his biggest. He went back-to-back, taking the BMW then this one — a surefire path to fifteen million big ones.
Truth be known, Cantlay has come a long way from seeing his best friend hit and killed by a car. He’s come a long way from a cracked vertebrae — an no golfer wants to deal with a back injury like that.
“As tough as the tough times were,” Cantlay pointed out, “they made me who I am.”
And this 2021 FedEx Cup winner is the Tour’s version of Cool Hand Luke.
He’s “Patty-Ice” or simply “Iceman.”
No emotion, just results.
Tour Championship Payouts:
1st: $15 million – Patrick Cantlay
2nd: $5 million – Jon Rahm
3rd: $4 million – Kevin Na
4th: $3 million – Justin Thomas
T-5: $2.5 million ($2.2 million each) – Viktor Hovland, Xander Schauffele
7th: $1.3 million – Bryson DeChambeau
8th: $1.1 million – Dustin Johnson
T-9: $950,000 ($890,000 each) – Abraham Ancer, Billy Horschel
T-11: $750,000 ($705,000 each) – Daniel Berger, Tony Finau, Jason Kokrak
T-14: $620,000 ($583,750 each) – Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Louis Oosthuizen, Cameron Smith
T-18: $535,000 ($527,500 each) – Sam Burns, Harris English
T-20: $505,000 ($497,500 each) – Jordan Spieth, Sungjae Im
T-22: $478,000 ($466,667 each) – Erik van Rooyen, Corey Conners, Scottie Scheffler
25th: $445,000 -Patrick Reed
T-26: $435,000 ($425,000 each) – Stewart Cink, Collin Morikawa, Hideki Matsuyama
29th: $405,000 – Joaquin Niemann
30th (WD): $395,000 – Brooks Koepka