Patrick Cantlay Secures FedEx Cup Jackpot at Tour Championship
PATRICK CANTLAY birdied the 18th hole at East Lake to win the Tour Championship, the FedEx Cup title and the small matter of $15m.
The American, who began the week on 10 under par after his victory in the BMW Championship, shot a closing one-under-par 69 to finish on 21 under, one shot ahead of world number one and US Open champion Jon Rahm, who shot a 68. Cantlay took the spoils even though Rahm actually had a better 72-hole score.
"It felt huge and it was," he said. "We distanced ourselves from the field and it was like a one-on-one matchplay feel, and I think it will be great practice for the Ryder Cup."
Cantlay's win at the BMW Championship earned him one of six qualification spots in the US team at Whistling Straits for the 43rd Ryder Cup from 24-26 September. Captain Steve Stricker will name his six wildcard picks on Wednesday.
Rahm is set to be in the European team, with captain Padraig Harrington confirming the nine qualifiers and his three wildcard picks after the conclusion of the European Tour's BMW Championship at Wentworth.
Victory at last week's BMW Championship in the PGA Tour's end-of-season play-offs, also saw Cantlay move top of the Fedex Cup standings and meant he started this season-ending tournament on 10 under par, two shots clear of his nearest rival under a controversial system adopted in 2019.
Cantlay kept that two-shot advantage after round one but saw it cut to one by Rahm after round two.
He restored his two-shot lead over Rahm heading into the final round, with Justin Thomas a further three shots back but the race for the title was always going to be between the top two.
Cantlay moved three ahead with a birdie on the second but Rahm closed to within one with a birdie on the fifth as the American had a three-putt bogey.
That was as close as the Spaniard got though. He was again within one when Cantlay bogeyed the 17th but his birdie on the par-five closing hole was matched by the American who held on for the biggest win of his career.
"I just kept telling myself to focus and lock in and I did a great job of that," said the world number four. "It was definitely different than any other week. It was the longest lead I've ever held.
"But I just tried to stay, day after day in the present, and I did an amazing job of that this week because the last couple days I made some mistakes I don't usually make and I was able to really centre myself and hit a lot of good shots when I needed to.”
NICOLAI HOJGAARD secured his breakthrough European Tour title with a history-making victory at the DS Automobiles Italian Open.
The Dane birdied the par-five last to close a level-par 71 at Marco Simone Golf Club and end the week on 13 under, a shot clear of Tommy Fleetwood and Poland's Adrian Meronk.
Hojgaard's victory comes just a week after this twin brother, Rasmus, won the Omega European Masters, making it the first time in European Tour history that brothers have won successive tournaments.
Fleetwood had also birdied the last for a closing 71, narrowly missing out on a first European Tour title since November 2019, with Meronk also tied-second having earlier set the target on 12 under following a superb 66.
"I was getting emotional after the last putt," Hojgaard told Sky Sports. "I could see my caddie, my girlfriend, Rasmus and his girlfriend. It has been a perfect week. To finish it off like this, the week after Rasmus won, is perfect."
Hojgaard started the day one ahead and cancelled out a three-putt bogey at the second by holing a 12-foot birdie at the fifth and adding a close-range birdie at the 11th, only to lose outright lead by carding back-to-back bogeys from the 14th.
Meronk had charged from six behind after pitching in for eagle from off the 11th green and back-to-back birdies over his next two holes, with pars over the closing stretch seeing him set the target at 12 under.
Fleetwood's hopes had appeared over when he three-putted from 30 feet at the sixth and dropped a shot at eighth, only to hole a 30-footer for the first of three birdies in a four-hole stretch around the turn and close the gap on the lead.
The Englishman took two attempts out of the sand on his way to a bogey at the 14th and responded to a blemish at the 16th by holing a nine-foot birdie at the last to briefly make it a three-way tie at the top, only for Hojgaard to fire his approach at the par-five 18th to three feet and set up a winning birdie.
Fleetwood said: "I hit a couple of bad shots at the wrong time but overall felt like I played well today.
"Especially on the front nine I felt as comfortable as I'd felt all week, long-game wise, and just didn't putt like I had done throughout the first three days. I eventually got that going.
"There are things that I'd like to put right but at the end of the day I haven't been around much this year, I haven't been in contention a lot. I played a lot better this week and again I take a lot of heart from those two shots on the 18th - the wedge in and holing the putt.
"Fair play to Nicolai - there's obviously something very special happening with those brothers and that's going to be exciting in the future."
Italy's Francesco Laporta finished two strokes back in fourth, with Edoardo Molinari and Richard Bland in a share of fifth place on ten under alongside Japan's Mashiro Kawamura. Daniel van Tonder, starting the day just a shot behind Hojgaard, slumped to tied-27th after a final-round 79.
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