Patrick Cantlay had to take this major risk after his 72nd-hole meltdown

It was Tom Kim and Patrick Cantlay squaring off in what seemed to be a Sunday singles encounter that the Presidents Cup may host in the future.

At the Shriners Children’s Open on Sunday, the last group was tied at five under par, and it seemed like we would be in for extra golf for the second week in a row.

Cantlay then changed into someone utterly unlike Patty Ice.

Cantlay, who was the clear pre-tournament favorite and led the field this week in strokes gained: off-the-tee, dragged his 3-wood on the 72nd hole dead left and into the woods.

After the round, he commented, “I made a bad swing, and it went where it went.

He was imprisoned and was figuratively caught between a rock and a hard place (a bush).

Although the drop would give Cantlay a tough approach to the green, which was guarded by water short and left, the Golf Channel broadcast crew almost instantly predicted Cantlay would take an unplayable.

Cantlay attempted to punch out. He was rejected, but he was aware of the danger.

I believed that getting it back in the fairway was my best chance of continuing the tournament, Cantlay said. Naturally, I was unable to get it back in the fairway.

“I thought if I could get it back in the fairway, I’d have a chance, and I figured it was worth the risk because I didn’t think I’d have too much of a chance of getting it up-and-down from the brush there.”

At that point, Cantlay gave up. To keep taking the same shot and hope for a different outcome would be insane. He was aware that he needed to swallow a drop.

On the broadcast, Cantlay was heard talking with the caddy. After Kim ripped his tee shot down the center, Matt Minister discussed the several outcomes for him to still finish alone in second place with a victory all but ruled out. Near terrific condition and three strokes behind of the leaders, Matt NeSmith was in the 18th fairway.

Cantlay made the decision to take the green with his fourth in classic Las Vegas style.


Hardpan was one of the most challenging 163-yard shots Cantlay might have faced. Above his feet, a ball. Rocks and bushes are everywhere. Water is looming below.

Cantlay had already taken a chance on the last shot, so it was still another risk.

He positioned himself close to the spot where his ball had entered the hazard and flicked a wedge to 36 feet from the hole. Cantlay almost shot a 59 only one day before, but even making that putt for a triple, as he did, couldn’t erase the bitter taste of his near-flawless 71 holes of golf this week. He ultimately tied for second place with NeSmith rather than coming in a single second place finish, costing Cantlay $160,000.

“I played well all week for the most part,” he said. “One bad swing at the end. Obviously would have liked to have closed the deal out today, but sometimes that’s golf.”

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Photo Credit: Akash Pamarthy / USA TODAY NETWORK

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