Determined, Stoic Cantlay beats a Strong DeChambeau in Maryland

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. —Patient but creative player Patrick Cantlay was asked to look forward to Saturday night’s final lap of Sunday’s BMW Championship, where he’d be paired with mechanic and volatile ex-college physics student Bryson DeChambeau.

The golfers would start the day in a draw for the lead.

“A scientist versus an artist?” asked a reporter.

Cantlay smiled and replied: “You should be able to decide.”

The two dueled over six hours of fun and 24 holes on Sunday. While Cantlay was typically creative and quietly efficient, DeChambeau’s flamboyant style and powerful kicks dominated Caves Valley Golf Club outside of Baltimore.

But what emerged was more than a riveting of styles. It’s been a test of will among golfers in their 20s and young faces at the start of the sport’s transition from the Tiger Woods era. It was a show and the cast of characters was completely new.

The tournament leader changed several times, but neither golfer was able to escape the shadow of the final match. DeChambeau’s gigantic rides, animated fist pumps, and purposeful, marching strides were greeted by muffled cries and shouts. Cantlay’s determined, callous efforts and slow pace of play were followed by a measured but respectful applause.

“The Tortoise and the Rabbit” could have been the golf version of the folktale.

Finally, on the sixth playoff hole, 29-year-old Cantlay took an 18-foot uphill bird hit and presented a thin, rarest grin. As the sun began to set in Maryland, 27-year-old DeChambeau couldn’t keep up with his opponent’s determination and missed a nine-yard shot that would have extended the game.

This was Cantlay’s fifth victory on the PGA Tour and his second this year. The win puts him in command of the final of three stages of the FedEx Cup playoffs, entering the end-of-season Tour Championship with a $15 million prize for the champion.

“It was an incredible atmosphere all day and I tried to stay in my own little world,” Cantlay, who is ranked 10th in the men’s world golf rankings, later said. “The fans were very energetic and on every shot. It’s really nice to get them back.”

DeChambeau has been a crowd favorite since gaining 40 pounds last year and starting awe-inspiring 370-yard rides. He learned to play and play in their galleries and was the public’s choice for most of Sunday. But over time, no exaggeration Cantlay has grown his own following.

Maybe the emotionless new cool. Or, as Cantlay noted, towards the end of Sunday, fans began calling him a new nickname: “Patty-Ice.”

“I’ve never heard of that,” Cantlay said.

DeChambeau did not meet with reporters after Sunday’s tour, as he has for the past few weeks. But when the two were on the 14th hole, he spoke to Cantlay about golf course etiquette. In an unusual exchange, DeChambeau asked Cantlay to stop walking while DeChambeau prepared for one of his shots.

“He asked me to stop walking,” Cantlay explained. “The rules officials told us to step things up. But it wasn’t a big deal. This sort of thing happens here from time to time.”

The drama intensified even more when the competition moved to a playoff after Cantlay and DeChambeau drew 18 holes. Cantlay made an almost shrewd shot attempt on the first playoff hole, but evenly settled, a result matched when DeChambeau’s long bird shot slid right off the trophy. On the next hole, Cantlay dropped his approach shot to par-4 to the 18th green, but pared with two deft but less than 50 feet into the hole. DeChambeau took a six-yard bird shot to finish off the tournament, but as he had done several times before on the round, he pulled the golf ball from the left of the hole.

On the fourth playoff hole, DeChambeau made a surprising mistake when he threw a tee into a creek to the right of the 18th hole. He overcame the wrong play, however, and a par was good enough to send the competition to a fifth playoff hole, resulting in a pars match.

The closing moments of the first 18 hole lap were also lacking in intensity. Indeed, Cantlay looked like he squandered his chances on the 16th hole, equaled by a substandard chip throw. DeChambeau took the lead when he landed a blow on the hole. Then, Cantlay’s 186-yard tee onto the 17th hole landed 10 yards behind the green and splashed sideways into a pond before finishing off with a bogey.

But DeChambeau, who struggled with his chips throughout the tournament, took a step off the snags just inches from the green and was paired with Cantlay. On the Par-4 18th hole, each player reached the green by twos, but Cantlay rolled the curved, right-to-left, 22-meter bird strike, while DeChambeau badly pulled the 15-metre bird to the left and landed an even shot. .

With his Sunday evening victory assured, a smiling and even giggling Cantlay remained on the green and greeted the audience with his hat off and waving to the stands. Even though his words were suppressed by applause, he said “Thank you” over and over again.

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