Cantlay rallies to win and end 16-month drought at Zozo

V Krishnaswamy Thousand Oaks | Updated on October 26, 2020 Published on October 26, 2020

Patrick Cantlayj

Tiger Woods way behind

Patrick Cantlay rallied from an overnight three-shot deficit to win the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP@SHERWOOD by one stroke beating World No. 2 Jon Rahm and third-ranked Justin Thomas.

Cantlay, 28, carded a final round of 7-under 65 at Sherwood Country Club to claim his third PGA TOUR victory with a 23-under 265 aggregate. He picked up US$1.44 million and 500 FedExCup points which pushed him up to second place on the latest standings. Rahm (68) and Thomas (69) ended at 22-under.

Defending champion Tiger Woods, who has won five times in Hero World Challenge at this very course, closed with a 74 to end the week in tied 72nd position. Ironically he was paired with Phil Mickelson in the final day three-ball. Mickelson finished even further down in 76th place out of 78 who started.

The next stop for both will be the Masters, where Woods again gets a chance to defend his title.

Rory McIlroy (66) and Justin Rose (67) ended T-17.

Overnight leader Thomas settled for joint runner-up place after a 69 as he paid dearly for some uncharacteristic errors on the back nine which cost him a chance of winning a 14th title while Rahm also finished one behind, missing a 19-feet birdie on the last to force a playoff in the US$8 million tournament which moved from its home base in Japan to the U.S. this year due to COVID-19.

Cantlay, a former world amateur No. 1 and grew up in California, shott 32 before enjoying a run of four birdies over a five-hole stretch on the back nine which saw him seize control of the tournament. He made only two bogeys all week and one of them was on 16 which gave Rahm and Thomas a chance. But the duo could not capitalise on it.

Cantlay pointed out to the birdie on the par 3, 15th hole as crucial. His 7-Iron nearly bounced into the cup but stopped 10 feet further and he holed it to stay ahead of Rahm and Thomas.

“The iron shot on 15, that's a hard hole and to make a birdie there was definitely getting some back on the guys. There couldn't have been that many birdies there and it was just one of those swings where you make the swing exactly how you picture it in your head,” said Cantlay.

“It just kind of all came together every day,” said Cantlay, who made nine birdies in the final round to tie his career best. “I knew I had to go out and make a bunch of birdies. And today was actually the only day I made a bogey, but offset it with enough birdies. I just had a really aggressive mentality from the start. I made a couple good swings early, so after feeling comfortable with my swing and distance control, it felt like it was off to the races and see how many putts I could make.

“I think it's (winning) just validation of all the hard work. I put in a lot of work and try to do the right things all the time, so when it all does come together, it's really rewarding.”

After playing the back nine at Sherwood in 15-under during the first three rounds, Thomas was disappointed with his even par effort on his inward nine, which features three par 5s, on Sunday.

Rahm also missed an opportunity to regain the World No. 1 ranking which he needed a solo second or better finish this week. The Spaniard had birdie looks on 17 and 18 to tie Cantlay but agonisingly missed both opportunities.

Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama closed with a 66 to finish as the best Japanese amongst the eight in the elite field in tied 28th place.

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Published on October 26, 2020
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