ATLANTA — Patrick Cantlay was on the verge of losing his two-shot lead on one hole, with nothing less than the FedEx Cup, its $15 million prize and his newfound reputation as "Patty Ice" on the line.
He was clutch as ever in his biggest moment Sunday in the Tour Championship.
Cantlay made a nervy six-foot bogey putt on the 17th hole to stay one shot ahead of Jon Rahm going to the par-5 18th at East Lake Golf Club, then hit his longest drive of the tournament — 361 yards down the middle — with Rahm already in the fairway. Cantlay's next shot was a 6-iron from 218 yards to 12 feet — the closest of anyone all day — that all but clinched the one-shot victory, the FedEx Cup and perhaps even PGA Tour player of the year.
"It was the best shot I hit all week," Cantlay said.
The 29-year-old from California outlasted big-hitting Bryson DeChambeau in a six-hole playoff at the BMW Championship to secure the No. 1 seed for the 30-man finale. One week later, he held off the No. 1 player in the Official World Golf Ranking with his one-shot victory over Rahm in the Tour Championship.
The nickname "Patty Ice" only surfaced at the BMW Championship, but it's starting to stick.
"To me, it just means cool under pressure, and I think that suits my personality really well," said Cantlay, who never changed his expression Sunday until showing a big smile when he tapped in for birdie and a 1-under-par 69, waving his cap to thousands of fans around the green.
It seems to suit his game, too.
Rahm couldn't get enough putts to fall. The reigning U.S. Open champion stayed close all day, and his shot into the 18th was equally special. It landed right next to the hole on its second bounce, rolling through to light rough just off the green.
Cantlay expected him to chip in for eagle "because that's what he does." Rahm narrowly missed and shot a 68, allowing Cantlay a safe two-putt for the win.
The victory was worth $15 million — $14 million in cash, $1 million deferred — for Cantlay, whose rise in golf was slowed by a back injury that kept him out for three years and nearly ended his career. Now he has stamped himself among the elite in golf, boosted by the FedEx Cup postseason.
"It's fantastic. It's such a great honor because it's all year," said Cantlay, whose six PGA Tour career wins include four from the 2020-21 schedule. "I played really consistent all year and caught fire at the end. There's a lot of satisfaction considering all the work I've put in my whole life."
Cantlay's No. 1 spot in the FedEx Cup standings meant he started the tournament at 10 under and with a two-stroke lead over Northern Trust winner Tony Finau, with DeChambeau another stroke back. Rahm, who started four shots behind and went into the final day two back, never caught Cantlay — but he also never let him rest.
Cantlay took a two-shot lead with an approach shot that set up a six-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole, then nearly lost it all. He drove to the right on the 17th, clipping a tree and dropping down into deep rough, then hit a flyer over the green and the gallery. His pitch back to the green came up short and into more deep rough, and he had to make a six-footer to save bogey and stay ahead.
That set up the final hole, where the 26-year-old Spaniard could only match birdies with Cantlay.
"I gave it my all," said Rahm, who had no bogeys over his final 28 holes. "It wasn't enough."
Rahm tied with Kevin Na for the low 72-hole score of the tournament at 14-under 266. They will split points toward the world ranking.
Rahm earned the $5 million consolation prize for finishing second in the FedEx Cup, while Na (67) picked up $4 million. Justin Thomas (70) birdied the last hole to finish fourth, which was worth $4 million.
Baylor School graduate Harris English, seeded seventh entering the tourney, bounced back from a 75 to close with a 68 and tie for 18th and earn $527,500. The former University of Georgia standout wasn't lacking for support in Atlanta, and he believes that was enhanced by the fifth-ranked Bulldogs football team opening its season with a 10-3 win against No. 3 Clemson on Saturday night.
"Pretty much every day we set the over/under at about 200 for how many "Go Dawgs!" (cheers will happen), and I think we hit the over every single day," English said after Sunday's round. "Yesterday was rowdy with the game coming up last night, and obviously with Georgia winning last night, everybody was excited.
"It's nice to play in your home state and have a lot of support, a lot of red and black out here today, and even a lot of "Go Baylor!" chants from Chattanooga. It's great to have the support."
Jaeger stays on top
NEWBURGH, Ind. — Joseph Bramlett won the season-ending Korn Ferry Tour Championship to top the three-event Korn Ferry Tour Finals points standings and earn fully exempt status for the PGA Tour season that starts Sept. 16 at the Fortinet Championship in Napa, California.
Bramlett, a 33-year-old Californian, played the back nine at Victoria National Golf Club in 6-under 30 and finished with a 7-under 65 for a 20-under 268 total and a four-stroke victory over Trey Mullinax (70). South Africa's Christiaan Bezuidenhout (64) was another strokes back in third.
Chattanooga's Stephan Jaeger, who skipped the finale, finished first in the season-long points standings on the developmental circuit to also earn a full PGA Tour exemption. He previously played on golf's top circuit from 2017 to 2019.
Fifty players earned PGA Tour cards: half from the three-event finals standings and half from the season points race.
Jaeger, a 32-year-old from Germany who starred at Baylor School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, won twice during a Korn Ferry Tour season that lasted longer than usual due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This season started in mid-January 2020, and although there was a three-month shutdown when the pandemic began, that also led the PGA Tour to decide not to promote players from the lower tour last fall.
GUIDONIA MONTECELIO, Italy — How's this for two of a kind?
Nicolai Højgaard made a birdie putt on the 18th hole to win the Italian Open a week to the day his identical twin brother, Rasmus, won the European Masters in Switzerland by also making a birdie with his final stroke.
"To finish it off like this, and to do it a week after Rasmus won, it's perfect," said Nicolai, who was the last player added to the field with a wild card from the Italian Golf Federation.
It marked the first time in European Tour history that brothers have won back-to-back tournaments. The 20-year-olds from Denmark are considered two of the continent's brightest prospects, with the win by Rasmus the previous weekend the third of his career.
In a nod to the future, Nicolai's success came on the redesigned Marco Simone course just outside Rome that will host the 2023 Ryder Cup — and he doesn't need to look far for the perfect partner for foursomes and fourball.
"Me and my brother would love to play together," Nicolai said. "We've been doing that back home when we're playing events. So that's definitely a goal of ours, and I can't wait to come back."
For his first European Tour victory, Nicolai closed with a 71 to finish at 13-under 271, one stroke ahead of 2018 Ryder Cup standout Tommy Fleetwood of England, who closed with a 71, and Poland's Adrian Meronk (66).
Rasmus, who tied for 18th at 6 under after a closing 68, walked the course again shortly after his final round to watch his brother complete the victory, then rushed out onto the 18th green for a celebratory hug with Nicolai.
Europe in control
TOLEDO, Ohio — Ireland's Leona Maguire and England's Mel Reid helped Europe take a 9-7 lead over the Unites States into the closing singles matches in the Solheim Cup.
Maguire and Reid combined to topple top-ranked Nelly Korda and teammate Ally Ewing in alternate-shot play Sunday morning at Inverness, then scrambled to tie Jennifer Kupcho and Lizette Salas in four-ball competition in the afternoon.
Reid and Maguire crushed the struggling Korda and Ewing 5 and 4 — the biggest blowout of any of the opening 16 matches — then halved with Kupcho and Salas when Reid's approach on the par-4 18th left her a three-foot putt she made to pull even.
Europe is the reigning champion but is trying to win on U.S. soil for just the second time in the 31-year history of the biennial competition. This is the ninth time Europe has led going into the singles matches. The Europeans have won just four of the previous eight times they were in front after two days, most recently in 2013 when they scored their lone road victory at Colorado Golf Club.