‘The risk is worth it’: Here’s what Patrick Cantlay thought as he made a disastrous triple bogey to lose the Shriners Children’s Open | Golf News and Tour Information
The 2022-23 PGA Tour season has just three events, but one theme has already begun to emerge: proceeding with caution at the 72nd hole.
Three weeks ago at the Fortinet Championship in Napa, Calif., it was Danny Willett who put three balls inside five feet on the final hole that cost him the title at Silverado Resort (credit Max Homa for a birdie chip-in that made the three-putt matter). Sunday, at the Shriners Children’s Open in Las Vegas, it was Patrick Cantlay who stumbled on arrival at TPC Summerlin to allow Tom Kim to walk away with victory.
Cantlay, who made the event his first of eight PGA Tour titles when he won in 2017, struggled early in the final round after sharing the 54-hole lead with Kim, making two bogeys offset by two birdies on the first eight holes. But with five birdies in his next eight, Cantlay found himself tied with Kim at 24 under the direction of the par-4 finishing hole at TPC Summerlin.
Using a 3-wood off the tee after hitting nine of 13 fairways during the round, Cantlay saw his luck run out when the ball veered harder left than he had hoped. He eventually found an ugly spot under a desert bush 162 yards from the hole, leaving a lie that on-course reporter Arron Oberholser quickly flagged as too bad to play a recovery shot from the back to the fairway.
Still, given the circumstances – Kim’s ball was safely in the fairway 123 yards from the green – Cantlay decided he had to take the gamble. When in Vegas!
“I thought the only chance I had to stay in the tournament was to try and get it back in the fairway,” Cantlay said. “Obviously I couldn’t get it back in the fairway.”
Indeed, he could not. See for yourself:
Cantlay now faced an even worse situation with his third shot. This time he had no choice but to declare his lie unplayable, take a drop and somehow attempt to hit the green with his fourth shot. But after the fall, his ball seemed to come to rest in a rut in the hard desert, leaving Cantlay with a particularly tricky recovery game. So tricky that he ended up finding the water guarding the green.
Of course, winning the tournament was now out of the question; Kim hit his approach shot safely to the center of the green, 52 feet from the hole, meaning a three-putt bogey was the absolute worst score he posted (and considering he didn’t). hadn’t bogeyed a hole all week, even that was unlikely).
Cantlay made it to the green in six and battled a 35-footer to try to hold on now for a share of second place with Matthew NeSmith. Indeed, it happened:
After signing for a closing 69 and officially finishing three strokes behind Kim (who, for the record, made two putts for par), Cantlay spoke to the media and explained his thought process. While Oberholser may have been right that the chances of getting that second shot out of the bush and back onto the fairway were slim, Cantlay thought the alternative wasn’t much better.
“I thought it was worth the risk because I didn’t think I would have too much luck getting him up and down the brush there,” he said.
Given the way Cantlay’s fourth shot went, he might have been onto something. And considering how much he’d been working on all day, there might have been no choice but to try and aim for the hero. At least he fell swinging, figuratively and literally.
“You know, I had a chance to go down the back nine,” Cantlay said. “I hit a lot of good shots, made a lot of good swings, so yeah, like I said, overall it was a good week and I played a lot of solid shots this week. Obviously, the last hole makes the whole week a little sour.
And as with the rest of the PGA Tour, don’t say we didn’t warn you about that 72nd hole.