Patrick Cantlay follows Jack Nicklaus' advice on how to win at Memorial

Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Cantlay follows Jack Nicklaus' advice on how to win at Memorial

PGA Tour

Patrick Cantlay follows Jack Nicklaus' advice on how to win at Memorial

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DUBLIN, Ohio – This time, Patrick Cantlay got the job done on the back nine on a Sunday in the Memorial.

Some sage advice from Jack Nicklaus didn’t hurt.

Last year Cantlay took a two-shot lead to the final nine holes in the final round at Muirfield Village but didn’t make another birdie and instead made three bogeys and missed a playoff by one shot.

This time around, Cantlay, after making the turn in 5-under 31, didn’t extinguish his momentum and birdied the 11th, 14th and 15th – and made a clutch par out of a deep greenside bunker on the final hole – en route to a two-shot win in Nicklaus’ annual get-together.

A few words of advice Friday from Nicklaus on how to close out a tournament guided Cantlay on the back nine.

“He said just relax and have fun and look around and see all the people having fun and have a good time with it. That’s why you’re there,” said Cantlay, who moved to No. 8 in the official world golf rankings with the victory. “I felt at ease having his words in my head coming down the stretch. Meant a lot.

“Definitely coming back, I was looking for a little redemption this week. And that has to do with me feeling really comfortable on the golf course and liking it a lot. Not to mention I’ve been playing really well, so it feels like a win has been coming. I’ve been knocking on the door a lot.”

MEMORIAL: Final leaderboard

Cantlay knocked the door down with a closing 8-under-par 64, overcoming a four-shot deficit in the process. He finished at 19 under and two shots clear of Adam Scott and four clear of Martin Kaymer.

Scott (68) was trying to win for the first time since the 2016 WGC-Cadillac Championship.

“It’s disappointing not to win, for sure. I really played good golf this week, and it just wasn’t good enough,” said Scott, who will head to Pebble Beach on Tuesday to begin prep for the U.S. Open June 13-16. “I’m very happy with where things are at. It’s just going to make me hungrier for two weeks’ time from now, and it’s a good time to be playing well.”

Kaymer, the 54-hole leader by two shots, was trying to win for the first time since the 2014 U.S. Open. He upped his advantage to four with three birdies in his first seven holes. But Cantlay kept coming and Kaymer bogeyed three holes in a five-hole stretch.

“Overall I was in control of the game. And on the back nine a couple things happened here and there, which happens always. It was just the wrong time,” Kaymer said. “I really enjoyed the atmosphere the whole week and being in contention here. All credit to Patrick. He played a great round of golf. He deserved to win; 19-under par is amazing.”

Kevin Streelman (66) finished solo fourth, Marc Leishman (69) solo fifth, and Hideki Matsuyama (72) solo sixth. Jason Dufner (69) and Jordan Spieth (73) tied for seventh.

Tiger Woods closed with a 67 and tied for ninth in his final tournament before the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, where he won the national championship in 2000 by a record 15 shots and tied for fourth in 2010.

It was the second PGA Tour title for Cantlay, 27, the former world No. 1 amateur for 54 weeks whose career has been marred by a back injury that nearly forced him out of the game and the death of his best friend and caddie, Chris Roth. Roth was killed in a hit-and-run while the two were crossing a street in Newport Beach, Calif., in 2016.

During a stretch of three years, Cantlay played just nine tournaments while dealing with a back issue that was finally diagnosed as a stress fracture in his L5 vertebrae. After he won the 2017 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, Cantlay kept putting himself in position to win a second Tour title. He has finished T-15 or better nine times.

In his last three individual starts before the Memorial, he tied for ninth in the Masters and tied for third in the RBC Heritage and the PGA Championship.

“This win validates my confidence that I can beat the best players in the world on a golf course that is set up like a major championship,” Cantlay said. “It does a lot for my confidence.

“I definitely feel like I’ve had a lot of close calls since my last win. I’m a little surprised it’s taken me this long. It feels really, really good to finish it off how I did today. I knew I had a little bit of a mountain to climb to start the day. A couple of guys ahead of me, two and four shots ahead of me, and guys that have played really well and closed out golf tournaments. I knew I needed to come out firing and make a bunch of birdies, and I did.”

He’ll take that extra boost of confidence to Pebble Beach. Cantlay said the harder the course is set up, the better.

“I really like major championship golf. I feel like it suits my game,” Cantlay said. “I feel like the golf courses, as far as I’m concerned, the rough can’t be long enough, the fairways can’t be narrow enough, the greens can’t be fast enough. I love golf like that.

“And I really like Pebble Beach. It’s a golf course I’ve played multiple times, and I feel really comfortable around there.”

Nicklaus said Cantlay’s game is well suited for majors.

“Drives the ball very straight,” Nicklaus said. “His iron game is obviously very good. He’s got a good attitude. He’s not trying to do something flashy. He tries to play good, solid golf. And that’s really what it takes to play major championship golf.”

And to win the Memorial.


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