Patrick Cantlay celebrates his win at the BMW Championship. SIPA USA/PA Images
nerves of steel

Cantlay edges DeChambeau in epic playoff for BMW Championship crown

Cantlay drained a 17-foot birdie putt at the sixth playoff hole to take the title.

PATRICK CANTLAY DRAINED a 17-foot birdie putt at the sixth playoff hole to deny Bryson DeChambeau and win the US PGA Tour BMW Championship.

Cantlay secured his fifth Tour title – and his third of the year – when DeChambeau was unable to get his own eight-foot birdie attempt to drop, an agonizing defeat for a player who had looks at potential tournament-winning putts at the 72nd hole and first three playoff holes.

“I’m as focused as I can be on every single shot, and I try not to let my mind get past the moment that I’m in,” Cantlay said.

“Then I kind of let the chips fall where they do. I try not to get caught up in being out-driven 45 yards or whatever it is. I just try and lock in and do my absolute best in that moment, and my best is pretty good.”

The last-group playing partners started the day tied for the lead and carded six-under par 66s to finish on 27-under 261 – four strokes in front of South Korean Im Sung-jae.

Rory McIlroy was a further shot behind after signing off with a fourth round 67 to finish on 22-under for the weekend.

The victory in the second of three PGA Tour playoff events sends Cantlay into the concluding Tour Championship atop the playoff standings and in pole position to claim the FedEx Cup top prize of $15 million.

Cantlay rolled in a 21-foot birdie putt at the 72nd hole to pull even, piling the pressure on DeChambeau who couldn’t get his 12-foot birdie attempt for the win to drop.

DeChambeau had taken a one-shot lead with a birdie at the par-five 16th, and appeared to be in full control when Cantlay hit his tee shot into the water at the par-three 17th.

But both players ended up with bogey there, Cantlay making a clutch eight-footer to limit the damage as DeChambeau’s poor chip from the greenside rough left him a 10-footer for par that he missed.

The two had been neck-and-neck all day, DeChambeau using his long-hitting aggressive style and Cantlay a more methodical approach.

“My game feels really good,” Cantlay said. “It has for a while now, since the Memorial, and I’m finally starting to putt like me again. It’s really nice.”

DeChambeau had three birdies on the front nine, while Cantlay had four birdies and a bogey as they made the turn tied for the lead at 24-under par.

DeChambeau edged ahead with three birdies in a row at the 10th, 11th and 12th, bombing a 332-yard drive at the 11th and making a five-footer for birdie before rattling in a 10-footer at the par-five 12th.

That kept his nose in front even as Cantlay birdied 11 and 12, but Cantlay pulled level with a 21-foot birdie at the 14th.

A 340-yard drive in the fairway at the par-five 16th set DeChambeau up for another birdie, but Cantlay just wouldn’t go away.

Both were in the fairway at the first playoff hole, the 18th, DeChambeau yards ahead. Cantlay’s second shot put him in deep greenside rough, as DeChambeau was on the green in two. But Cantlay’s chip kissed the cup and holed a five-footer coming back for par.

DeChambeau couldn’t get his long birdie attempt to fall, making his two-footer to send it to the second extra hole.

They returned to the 18th, where DeChambeau again had a golden opportunity to seal the win but couldn’t do so.

Cantlay’s poor approach left him a lengthy birdie try that came up seven feet short.

After he rolled in his par putt, DeChambeau stepped up for his six-foot birdie attempt and watched in disbelief as it kissed the edge of the cup and rolled two feet past.

“I thought he was going to make that putt,” Cantlay said. “That was maybe the only time that I really thought I was done. But he didn’t make it; that’s golf.”

DeChambeau had another chance to put it away at the third playoff hole, the par-three 17th. But after Cantlay two-putted for par from 24 feet, DeChambeau saw his own 17-footer lip out.

DeChambeau was in trouble at the fourth playoff hole, hitting his tee shot into the stream that winds up the right side of the 18th hole as Cantlay again found the fairway.

But he stuck his third shot five feet from the pin, and after Cantlay could only two-putt for par from 22 feet, DeChambeau made his par-saving effort to extend the playoff.

Both then birdied the fifth playoff hole, the 17th, and returned again to 18, where DeChambeau shook off his earlier error with a booming drive up the middle of the fairway.

But Cantlay also reached the green in two, and rammed in a 17-foot birdie putt that was good for the victory when DeChambeau missed his own eight-foot birdie attempt.

“I’m just as focused as I can be. If I look the way I do, it’s because I am locked in and focused, and I felt like that today,” Cantlay said.

© – AFP, 2021

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