OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Clutch down the stretch and for six dynamic playoff holes, Patrick Cantlay put a fitting end to an epic battle with Bryson DeChambeau by making an 18-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to win the BMW Championship on Sunday.
DeChambeau missed a 6-foot putt for 59 on Friday and missed four birdie putts to win in regulation and in the playoff Sunday. And then he missed the most important putt of the week from just inside 10 feet to extend the playoff. It cost him a victory that looked like it was his all along.
“Patty Ice” simply wouldn’t allow it.
That’s the nickname Cantlay heard from thousands of delirious fans at Caves Valley who got a royal treat in the PGA Tour’s first appearance in Baltimore in nearly 60 years.
Cantlay lived up to the moniker over the final two hours.
He made putts from 8 feet for par, 8 feet for bogey and 20 feet for birdie on the final three holes of regulation for a 6-under 66, the last one to force a playoff. He holed par putts of 6 feet and 7 feet on the 18th hole in the playoff.
The last one gave him the victory, his PGA Tour-leading third of the season. Not only did it move him to the top of the FedEx Cup standings, the victory gave Cantlay the sixth and final automatic spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
He wouldn’t have been left off, anyway, not with that clutch performance.
Cantlay now starts the Tour Championship with a two-shot lead based on his standing as the race concludes for the $15 million prize.
It was a big disappointment for DeChambeau, who powered his way around Caves Valley and appeared to have it wrapped up when he birdied the par-5 16th for a one-shot lead, and then watched Cantlay put it in the water on the next hole.
Instead, his only big moment was saving par after driving into the stream right of the 18th fairway on the fourth extra hole.
As if the final round wasn’t entertaining enough, there were a few testy moments between the only two players who had a chance to win all day.
DeChambeau was rolling his eyes when Cantlay marked and studied 2-foot par putts on the front nine. Cantlay was walking up the 14th fairway as DeChambeau prepared to hit his approach when DeChambeau backed off and asked him to stop walking.
This was a tough loss in other ways for DeChambeau, who also closed with a 66. They finished at 27-under 261. No one has ever shot 261 on the PGA Tour and didn’t take home the trophy.
Sungjae Im birdied his last two holes for a 67 to finish alone in third, four shots behind. Rory McIlroy closed with a 67 to finish fourth.
DeChambeau looked to be a winner long before he prematurely tipped his cap to the gallery walking up to the 18th green in regulation.
He holed a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-5 16th hole, striking a pose of head bowed with arm extended in a clenched fist. That gave him a one-shot lead, and Cantlay still faced an 8-foot par putt. He made that, a sign of what was to come.
Cantlay’s tee shot on the par-3 17th bounced short and to the right with just enough momentum to roll onto the rock framing the pond and drop into the water.
Tournament over? Not quite. Cantlay hit a lob wedge from 100 yards in the drop area to 8 feet. DeChambeau hit a poor chip from the rough to 12 feet and two-putted for bogey, and Cantlay came up clutch again to make his putt and stay one shot behind.
And then he holed a 20-foot birdie on the 18th, and DeChambeau missed his 12-foot birdie putt for the win to send it to a playoff.
There was drama all over Caves Valley, even without a trophy at stake.
Erik van Rooyen of South Africa was 139th in the FedEx Cup three weeks ago. He won the Barracuda Championship, tied for seventh last week at Liberty National and closed with a 65 to move into the top 30 who go to the Tour Championship.
Sergio Garcia is headed back to East Lake for he first time since 2017. He tied for sixth to slide into the top 30. Max Homa and Charley Hoffman were bumped out.
Patrick Reed managed to hang on, but only after K.H. Lee made bogey on the 18th that cost him a trip to the Tour Championship. If healthy – Reed has been out with bilateral pneumonia – it at least gives him a chance for one last audition to be a captain’s pick for the Ryder Cup.
BRYSON’S CLOSE CALL
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Bryson DeChambeau missed a birdie from 6 feet, 3 inches on the 18th hole that would have made him the 12th player to break 60 and given him the 13th sub-60 round in PGA TOUR history.
After tapping in his eagle putt from just inside three feet at the par-5 16th hole, DeChambeau spun back a wedge to close range on 18 to leave himself a putt at history. Alas, he aimed too far left, and the ball never had a chance of going in.
“I hit it on the line, just misread it. We played it two and a half, three inches out, and it clearly didn’t break that much, but I had good speed on it and I’ll go look afterwards and see if I pulled it or not and work on ways to mitigate that,” DeChambeau said post round before heading directly to the practice putting green.
DeChambeau also eagled the par-5 fourth hole after his 273-yard second shot wound up just over 11 feet from the pin. He opened with a 7-under 29 on the front side and added birdies on 11, 12 and 14 before his incredible second eagle that came via an iron shot from the right rough.
“It was one of the better ones of my career. We judged the flier lie perfectly,” DeChambeau said of his approach shot. “I hit an 8-iron from 250, maybe it was more than that, I don’t know, but it was downwind, and we just wanted to get to that back little knob where maybe it could feed off and where if it goes over, I’m still OK.
“It fed off I think perfectly. Again, a little bit of luck. You have to have a little bit to luck to be playing that well out there.”
It was the second round of 60 in the last two weeks, as Cameron Smith also flirted with 59 at THE NORTHERN TRUST at Liberty National last week.
Scottie Scheffler shot the last 59 on TOUR at THE NORTHERN TRUST at TPC Boston last year.
DeChambeau beat his previous career low, a 62 at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, by two shots. He came into the week 9th in the FedExCup, first in driving distance. At 16 under par, he took a one-shot lead over Patrick Cantlay (63) and Jon Rahm, who has a 15-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole to join the lead when play resumes Saturday morning.
Playing partner Jordan Spieth believed it must have been similar to what Tiger Woods was doing to his opponents in the early stages of his career when he was by far the longest player on TOUR.
“I played with Bryson the first two rounds when he won at Bay Hill, and when he’s driving it that straight, it’s got to be what it was like in the early 2000s with Tiger just hitting it the furthest and the straightest,” Spieth, who also played with Justin Thomas when he shot 59 in Hawaii, said.
“It’s a little easier from there, but you’ve still got to get it in the hole, and he just drove the ball well, made a few longer putts today, and had it going.”
The Californian also missed a birdie try from 15-feet on the 17th hole in his chase for history.
“It was an awesome opportunity. I had a couple birdie opportunities at 17 and 18, and it didn’t happen but I’m still really proud of the way I handled myself, and it’s great to feel some pressure again which is awesome,” DeChambeau added.
“A lot of putts went in. A lot of things went right. We got a lot of great numbers out of the rough today, and I played my butt off and never thought too much about anything until the last few holes.
“I striped a 9-iron on 17, striped a drive, striped a wedge on 18 and just wasn’t able to clutch those putts up. But I stroked it pretty well today and I’m going to go work on that a little bit and make sure I’m hitting it down my lines for this weekend, so I have myself a chance to win.”
Rory McIlroy found his energy level low amid the busy schedule and stifling summer heat. A good night of sleep and posting his lowest start in nearly a year at the BMW Championship on Thursday seemed to do the trick.
McIlroy holed an eagle putt from just outside 10 feet on the par-5 16th at Caves Valley on his way to an 8-under 64, giving him a share of the lead with Jon Rahm and Sam Burns.
Three days after heaving his 3-wood over the fence on his final hole at Liberty National, McIlroy used his new club — an old 3-wood he found in his garage — to smash a 285-yard shot up the hill and over a bunker that set up his eagle putt to move into a share of the lead.
McIlroy hasn’t opened with a score this low since a 64 at the TOUR Championship last year, and that’s where he’s trying to return. He is No. 28 in the FedExCup, and only the top 30 after the BMW Championship make it to East Lake.
“I’ve went through playoff stretches before where you’re always in that lead group. You’re either 1, 2 or 3 in the FedExCup, and that can sort of take its mental toll,” he said. “I’m in a position where I need to play well just to play next week. There is an element of free-wheeling.”
As for Rahm, he is rested and relentless as ever.
The U.S. Open champion and world No. 1 had five birdies on the front and kept bogeys off his card for a 64. It was the 15th time in his last 17 rounds dating to Sunday at the PGA Championship that he shot in the 60s.
Rahm is coming off a third-place finish in the FedExCup playoffs opener last week at Liberty National, losing a two-shot lead on the back nine. That might have bothered him more in the past, except that he was thrilled for Tony Finau, and he’s become a fan of Ted Lasso.
The Spaniard as strong as a bull prefers to be a goldfish.
“Happiest animal in the world is a goldfish. You know why? He’s got a 10-second memory,” Rahm said, reciting a famous line from the Ted Lasso series. “Played great golf last week, just a couple of bad swings down the stretch, and that’s the most important thing to remember.”
Burns also played bogey-free in posting his fourth score of 64 in his last eight rounds. While he’s set for the TOUR Championship, a big week at Caves Valley might make him a popular topic for one of the six captain’s picks for the Ryder Cup.
It’s a tough position for several players either trying to get the sixth and final automatic spot on the U.S. team this week, or at least get Captain Steve Stricker’s attention. Burns is among those trying to think only of task at hand, whatever that may be.
“Right now I’m focused on trying to give you the best answer I can, and after that I’ll try to figure out what I want to eat and just continue to do that over and over,” Burns said.
What’s for lunch?
“I haven’t seen the menu,” he said.
Players were feasting on Caves Valley, just like they did at Liberty National last week, and that was to be expected. The course was soft from the rain Hurricane Henri dropped over the weekend, and players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the short grass.
Eighteen players were at 67 or lower, a group that included Sergio Garcia (65), Patrick Cantlay (66) and Finau, Xander Schauffele and Dustin Johnson (67).
Is there anything to stop the best in the world?
“Not a course that has fairways this wide,” Cantlay said.
Finau won The Northern Trust last week in a playoff after he and Cameron Smith finished at 20-under 264. That looks to be what it will take at Caves Valley in these conditions.
It was hot, dry and fast at Olympia Fields south of Chicago last year in the BMW Championship. Rahm won a playoff over Dustin Johnson at 4-under 276. Only three other players broke par. Such is the nature of an outdoor sport dependent on weather.
Cantlay couldn’t be stopped once he saw a 15-foot putt drop for par on the ninth hole. He ripped off six birdies over his next seven holes, all but two of them from 18 feet or longer.
“Hit it pretty average, chipped it pretty average and made everything,” he said.
That recipe works anywhere.
The heat and humidity could sap energy from anyone, and McIlroy has been feeling fatigued as much from his schedule.
He went from the British Open to Tokyo for the Olympics — the heat index topped 100 degrees just about every day — and then to that cooler climate of Memphis, Tennessee in early August. After a week off, he faced as many as three straight FedExCup playoffs events.
“I was super tired yesterday. But you get a good night’s sleep and you feel a little bit better the next day and you can go out and play well,” McIlroy said.