It wasn’t as easy as it was a year ago, but the drama was just as rich. Patrick Cantlay made his first in PGA Tour history as he successfully defended the FedEx Cup Qualifier event title with a win on Sunday at the BMW 2022 Championship.
Entering the final round by one stroke over his good friend Xander Shaveli and his biggest challenger Scott Stallings, this title was no easy feat. After making two bobsles in a three-hole stretch around the turn, Cantlay found himself two hits off the lead set by Stallings and on the cusp of another close call.
While the 2021 season brought victories and fortunes, 2022 came after a close call. Three-time runner-up, Cantelay entered the week among the most consistent in the game but without a single win to his credit. The breaks went in the direction of his rivals in play; He was one revolution away from a playoff win at the WM Phoenix Open and a dead-end lie away from extending a playoff at the RBC Heritage. On a Sunday at the Wilmington Country Club, the golf gods finally adjusted.
In battling Stallings down the extension, Cantlay found himself in a share of the lead in 17th after dodging bullet after bullet with Stallings unable to convert many of the birds’ chances. With his drift point drifting correctly, it was a rebound that finally went his way that eventually propelled him to victory.
Destined to end up in the fairway bunker or perhaps a thick jagged jagged, Cantlay’s ball took 17 mysterious leaps into the fairway instead. While these moments often happen throughout a tournament, what Cantley did next is what defines champions: He capitalized on them. Hitting a 6-foot approach, the 30-year-old grabbed the lead on his own and didn’t look back as if he balanced the last time he brought the BMW Championship trophy back into his hands.
Cantlay is now 11th in the top 10 of the season, the best of his career and anyone’s best mark on the PGA Tour. It was said yesterday that persistence is not rewarded in the short term but in the long term. Faced with an intense three-week FedEx Cup qualifier, Cantlay actually has the luxury of taking advantage of both.
His great regular season made him miss out on the opportunity to add gear to his mantle, but what he did was prepare him for this very moment. He would enter the Tour Championship in second place behind only Scotty Scheffler and start the post-season finale with two strokes of the lead at 8-under.
Cantlay made history in Delaware on Sunday with his victory, and now he has a chance to add him to Atlanta. No man has ever won back-to-back FedEx Cup titles, and while that would certainly be on the mind of this year’s PGA Tour player of the year, the $18 million check has a realistic chance of adding to his bank account for the second year in a row. Grade: A +
Here are the details of the rest of the leaderboards for the BMW 2022 Championship
2. Scott Stallings (-13): He looked like the best player among those vying for the title most of the day. Brilliant from the tee to the green, Stallings ultimately failed to get the greens because he wasn’t able to convert Birdie’s chances on his last four holes which followed three surprise strikes off the green in 13 par-3. The victory meant a lot to Stallings, who had not won in more than eight years. Despite the disappointment, there are plenty of positives to take away from his performance. He entered Week 46 in the FedEx Cup and would leave 12th ahead of the likes of Justin Thomas and Matt Fitzpatrick, which is somewhat bewildering to imagine. Grade: A +
T3. Scotty Scheffler (-11): The world number 1 seed ran out at St. Jude but quickly corrected any mistakes in Memphis. He had his chances of landing on Sunday, and although he came up short, he’ll head to Atlanta as the FedEx Cup standings man of the match. Beginning in the week at 10 under 10 and two strokes in front of Cantlay, he will try to follow in the footsteps of his nearest pursuer and fend off the stalking group. Scheffler has managed to turn his scorching spring into an enviable position in East Lake, but his historic season could be done with the addition of a friendly bat. In the last 10 championships, Schaeffler has lost blows to the Greens on seven occasions – in the three times he hasn’t, he finished inside the top three. Grade: A-
T5. Cory Conners (-10): The best player outside of Canada these days, Connors entered Week 29 in the FedEx Cup standings. His volleying shots have always been a source of strength for him, and came in big on Sunday. After making two ghosts in the middle of his back nine, Connors was reeling and needed something good to happen. Well, it happened for the 30-year-old as his iron play set up a birdie kick in three of his last four holes to secure his place in the Tour Championship.
“It’s really exciting,” Connors said. “It’s always a goal at the beginning of the year. I feel like I’ve had a strong season. Still trying to get into the winner’s circle again, but a lot of really strong play, which gave me some chances, and I’m really excited to be back in East Lake.” Grade: A
T15. Sahih Thigala (-7): After opening his BMW Championship by 1-over 72, Theegala once again struggled with three straight rounds in the 1960s to qualify for the Tour Championship. He stated in a television broadcast that the nerves stabilize during the warm-up period, but were nowhere to be seen in the extension of the house. Making a birdie in four of his last seven holes on Sunday, Theegala looked beyond his years of experience and displayed the grit and grit that the top 30 players on the PGA Tour had shown.
“Oh, that’s it,” Tegala said of his nervousness. “The fact that you’re even in this position to get on the nerves is good. I think that’s something I tell a lot of guys like, if you’re nervous, that feels good. Imagine you’re not nervous. And then what you’re kind of doing. Obviously, there’s a fine line between Extreme stress, anxiety, rest, and finding that line is hard. But yeah, just stress is a privilege, and I definitely felt that way today.” Grade: A +
T15 Aaron Wise (-7): He was the last man on a turbulent final round and he could easily mobilize it early on. Making a double bogey on his second hole, Wise patched the ship mid-round before taking the water again. A double bogey went at No. 14-15, the 26-year-old managed to make three straight seasons to claim his second-ever ticket to the Tour Championship. While Wise has been able to make his way to the major leagues in recent years, with his trip to East Lake, he will receive an invitation to the Masters next year for the first time since 2019. Grade: B +
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