On Thursday, Patrick Cantlay shot a three-under-par 67 to stay two shots ahead of world No. 1 Jon Rahm in the first round of the US PGA Tour Championship.
After dominating the tour’s playoff standings courtesy to his playoff triumph against Bryson DeChambeau in the BMW Championship on Sunday, Cantlay was staked to a two-stroke lead at 10-under par for the season finale under the staggered-start system.
A chip-in at the third hole and a two-putt birdie from 54 feet on the edge at the par-five 18th hole at East Lake in Atlanta, Georgia, were among his four birdies on the day.
He was two shots ahead of Spain’s Rahm, who holed out from the fairway for birdie on the opening hole on his route to a five-under-par 65 and an 11-under total.
Rahm hit a 22-footer in the fourth quarter and a two-footer in the sixth quarter.
He recovered beautifully from bogeys on the seventh and eighth holes with birdies on the 12th and 13th holes before finishing his round with birdies on the 17th and 18th holes.
“I had a pretty solid 14 holes, and then I believe I had a little bit of a dip from seven to ten, but I was able to handle it nicely.
“The up-and-down for bogey on eight, the up-and-down for par on nine, and the up-and-down for par on ten were three crucial up-and-downs in a row to minimize the mistakes or the damage, and from then on I played fantastic golf.”
The chip-in at the first got Rahm rolling, but the difficult long putt at the second gave him even more confidence.
“With the exception of a couple of mistakes, it was a terrific round, but that’s why we train the short game.”
Rahm, who began the round four shots down due to his playoff rankings, said he didn’t give the structure much thought.
He explained, “It’s extremely easy to get caught up on how far back you start.” “I don’t believe I ever considered it out there. I was only attempting to record a score.
“My job is to hit the best shot I can every time, and that’s all I can manage – 72 holes is a lot of holes, and four strokes isn’t a lot to make up for.”
Cantlay further stated that he tried not to think about the fact that he was given a lead before making a stroke, putting him in prime position to win the tournament and earn the $15 million playoff champion’s prize.
“My main objective for this week is to be process-oriented and extremely present,” he explained. “Because I’m in this position, I believe it’s easy to get ahead of yourself and break from your game plan because you feel like you’re ahead, which isn’t good.
“As a result, I’m not going to do it.”
ACE IN ENGLISH
Americans Harris English and DeChambeau tied for third place on eight-under par, with DeChambeau shooting one-under 69 and English shooting four-under 66, which featured a hole-in-one at the par-three 15th and birdies at 16 and 17.
English said that he had been mostly spinning his wheels until the 15th. But after seeing his playing partner Abraham Ancer miss the green with a four-iron, he persuaded himself: “I’m roughly a club longer than he is, so I can smoke this five-iron, and it came off well and rolled sweetly.
He stated of his celebration, “I don’t know how loud I got.” “For about 15 seconds, I was completely blacked out. My caddy, for one, was ecstatic.”
Viktor Hovland, Cameron Smith, and Justin Thomas were all at seven-under par coming into the second round on Friday.