LAS VEGAS: American Patrick Cantlay parred the second playoff hole Sunday (Monday in Manila) to defeat South Korea’s Whee Kim and Germany’s Alex Cejka and capture his first US PGA title at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
The 25-year-old California collected his breakthrough victory in his 43rd career PGA event, having struggled for two years with a back injury and also the death of his caddie and friend Chris Roth in a hit-and-run accident in February of 2016.
“I had so many lows,” Cantlay said when asked to describe the feeling of his first PGA title. “Just all the hard work I did, it’s so different from where I was it’s hard to describe.”
Kim, Cejka and Cantlay finished 72 holes on nine-under par 275 at the TPC Summerlin layout in Las Vegas to reach the playoff and all three made bogeys on the first extra hole so they challenged the par-4 18th again in the playoff.
Cantlay’s tee shot went behind a tree but he blasted his approach between trees and over the back of the green. Cejka found the right rough on his first two shots and Kim went left under shrubs and rocks, took an unplayable lie and needed two more shots to reach the green.
“I didn’t want to lay up,” Cantlay said. “I figured Alex would make par. I hit the only shot I had.”
Cantlay putted the ball up onto the green and just missed the left edge of the cup, rolling two feet past.
Cejka and Kim were well short of the hole. Kim two-putted for double bogey, Cejka two-putted for bogey and Cantlay tapped in for par and the victory.
“It was a grind the last few holes, just a lot of hard work,” Cantlay said.
Four straight birdies
Cantlay and Kim each made bogeys at 18 in regulation to fall into a share of the lead with Cejka, who had been in the clubhouse for more than two hours after a final-round 63 with birdies on the last four holes.
Kim opened with a birdie then charged on the back nine, sinking 24-foot birdie putts on 10 and 12, a 12-footer at the par-five 13th and back-to-back birdies at 15 and the par-five 16th to reach 10-under, then made a clutch seven-foot par putt at the par-three 17th only to bogey the last to shoot 66.
Cantlay also reached the 18th at 10-under after an opening birdie. He sandwiched two more around a bogey at eight to close the front nine, then ran off four birdies in a row, the last a five-footer at the par-three 14th, before closing with back-to-back bogeys and a round of 67.
Also on nine-under was American Chesson Hadley, who closed the front nine with four birdies in the last five holes, then parred his way to the 18th green but missed a nine-foot par putt and finished one back of the lead pack, sharing fourth with compatriots J.T. Poston and Patton Kizzire.
American J.J. Spaun led much of the day but stumbled late, bogeys on 12 and 15 blunting a charge after birdies at 13 and 14. Spaun then took a double bogeys at 17 and 18 to finish on 278 in a share of 10th.