DUBLIN, Ohio — The emotion and intensity felt the same to Patrick Cantlay, whether it was his clutch 25-foot birdie putt to tie for the lead or his 12-foot par putt in a playoff that made him a winner again in the Memorial Tournament.
The handshake with Jack Nicklaus? As special as it was two years ago.
That was as far as the normal routine was allowed to go at a tournament that was as much about the guy who won as the guy who didn't play Sunday. Plenty of drama. A little rain. No sign of Jon Rahm.
Some 24 hours earlier, as Rahm pulled away with an 8-under-par 64 to build a six-shot lead at Muirfield Village Golf Club, Cantlay already was trying to figure out how low he would need to score to have a chance. And then Rahm was told off the 18th green Saturday evening that his COVID-19 test came back positive, knocking him out of the tournament.
"I would much rather have faced him down today and shot an extremely low round and beat him that way," Cantlay said after closing with a 71 and beating Collin Morikawa (71) with a par on the first playoff hole.
"But unfortunately, there's nothing I can do. I did everything I could with the cards I was dealt, and I really did a good job of focusing today on the task at hand and staying present. And that's all you can do in this game."
He did it one putt better than Morikawa, who missed a six-footer for par that would have extended the playoff.
The PGA Tour said Rahm had been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and was in its contact tracing program, subjected to tests every day since Monday. Every test was negative until Saturday, after his rain-delayed second round.
He was informed after tying the Memorial 54-hole record at 18-under 198. His six-shot lead tied the event's record set by Tiger Woods. And then he was out of the tournament.
"We're all devastated," Nicklaus, the tournament's founder, said earlier Sunday. "I wish we could figure out how to give Jon three-fourths of the trophy."
Nicklaus also figured it would add another element for Cantlay and Morikawa to confront, having gone from a six-shot deficit to a share of the lead.
They both handled it fine, and the lead was exchanged among Cantlay, Morikawa and Scottie Scheffler, who bogeyed the final hole for a 70 to finish two shots out of the playoff.
"All I had to do was focus on my game and go out and play golf. There's nothing else I could really change," Morikawa said. "I can't dictate anyone else's future or how they play or what's going on. So waking up this morning, I felt great. I was ready to go play golf and see if I could win the tournament."
Morikawa surged ahead with an eight-foot birdie putt on the par-5 15th, while Cantlay missed birdie putts from eight feet to tie him on the 15th and then on the par-3 16th.
The round was halted for about five minutes because of a pop-up downpour while they were on the 17th green. When it resumed, Cantlay holed a 25-foot birdie putt to tie, and Morikawa stayed in the game with a 12-foot par.
Cantlay had a 25-foot birdie putt for the win on the 18th in regulation that grazed the right side of the cup, leaving them at 13-under 275.
Rahm reached 13 under on the 11th hole Saturday and kept going. How would he have fared Sunday is unknown. No one has ever lost a lead that large in the final round at Muirfield Village, though it has happened seven times on the PGA Tour, most recently by Dustin Johnson in Shanghai in 2017.
"It was such a weird situation, so unfortunate," Cantlay said. "Everyone, me included, knows it would be totally different today if that hadn't happened. But there's nothing I could do about it. I tried as hard as I could to reset and refocus."
It led to the fourth victory of his PGA Tour career and second this season. Cantlay also won the ZoZo Championship in California last October, rallying from a three-shot deficit to beat Rahm and Justin Thomas.
He becomes the seventh player to win multiple times at the Memorial, a list that starts with Tiger Woods winning five times and includes Nicklaus winning twice.
Morikawa won at Muirfield Village last year, just not the Memorial. He won in a playoff against Thomas at the Workday Charity Open, a one-time event held when the pandemic forced the John Deere Classic to be canceled.
In that tournament, Morikawa twice had to watch as Thomas had a putt on the 18th green to win, and he survived to win on the third extra hole.
This time, he escaped one birdie chance by Cantlay in regulation. On the 18th in the playoff, Morikawa had a sliver of mud on his ball and came up well short from the fairway into deep rough. He chipped out to six feet.
Cantlay was well right and hacked it out into a bunker, but his shot from the wet sand rolled out 12 feet. It was on the same line as his 25-foot birdie attempt in regulation, and this time he poured it in for par. Moments later, Morikawa missed his six-footer and Cantlay let out a big exhale before going over to shake hands with Nicklaus.
"There's a little something that I can't quite put my finger on that make it's feel a little different," Cantlay said. "But I really hit a lot of clutch, solid shots today. And so I think I'll remember that mostly."
Jaeger runner-up after playoff
RALEIGH, N.C. — Chattanooga's Stephan Jaeger lost a playoff Sunday afternoon at the Rex Hospital Open as Mito Pereira secured his second Korn Ferry Tour victory of the season and a PGA Tour card for the 2021-22 schedule that starts in late summer.
That puts Pereira, a 26-year-old from Chile, in the same situation as the 32-year-old Jaeger, the former Baylor School and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga standout from Germany: Each is seeking a third win this season that brings with it immediate eligibility for the PGA Tour.
Jaeger has 10 top-10 results this season, including three runner-up finishes. On Sunday, he and Pereira each closed with a 4-under-par 67 at Wakefield Plantation to finish at 21-under 263 and match the tournament's 72-hole record. Pereira then won with a birdie on the first extra hole, jumping from 12th to second in the points standings, with the final top 25 getting PGA Tour cards.
Jaeger leads those standings and is bound for another stint on the PGA Tour, where he previously played as a regular from 2017 to 2019.
Teen wins U.S. Women's Open
SAN FRANCISCO — Yuka Saso birdied the third playoff hole to beat Nasa Hataoka and become the second teenager to win the U.S. Women's Open after Lexi Thompson struggled down the stretch.
Saso overcame back-to-back double bogeys early in the round to make the playoff. She then won it with a 10-foot putt on the ninth hole to become the first player from the Philippines to win a golf major.
Saso matched 2008 winner Inbee Park as the youngest U.S. Women's Open champion at 19 years, 11 months, 17 days.
Both players made pars at Nos. 9 and 18 in the two-hole aggregate playoff, sending the tournament to sudden death back at the ninth hole. That set the stage for Saso to win it just up the road from Daly City, dubbed the Pinoy Capital of the United States for its large population of Filipinos.
Thompson, who had a five-stroke lead after the eighth hole, played the final seven holes in 5 over for a 75 that left her a stroke back. Her approach shot on the par-4 18th ended up in the bunker, and then she missed a 10-foot putt to make the playoff.
The only other players to finish under par on the Lake Course at Olympic Club were Shanshan Feng and Megan Khang, who both were at 2 under.
High school junior Megha Ganne played in the final group but shot 77 and finished 3 over as the low amateur for the tournament.
Saso overcame a rough start to the final round with double bogeys on the second and third holes that seemed to knock her out of contention, but she managed to steady herself with a birdie at No. 7.
Saso then made back-to-back birdies on the par-5 16th and 17th holes to get to 4 under and join Hataoka in the playoff. Hataoka used a run of three birdies in a four-hole span on the back nine that put pressure on Thompson.
Ames rallies for close win
DES MOINES, Iowa — Stephen Ames won the Principal Charity Classic for his second PGA Tour Champions title, taking advantage of Tim Herron's final-round collapse.
Seven strokes behind Herron entering the round, Ames shot a 5-under 67 for a one-stroke victory over fellow Canadian Mike Weir.
A four-time winner on the PGA Tour, Ames won the 2017 Mitsubishi Electric Classic for his first senior title. The 57-year-old naturalized Canadian citizen from Trinidad finished at 12-under 204 at Wakonda Club.
Weir closed with a 69.
Herron bogeyed three of the final five holes in a 76 that left him tied for third at 10 under. He missed a chance for his first senior victory after winning four times on the PGA Tour.