Morikawa eager to savour taste of success after debut Open triumph
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Patrick Cantlay secured his first ever FedEx Cup after seeing off Jon Rahm to claim the Tour Championship in the final event of the PGA Tour season.
Cantlay – who began the week at the top of the FedEx Cup standings – maintained his lead throughout all four rounds in Atlanta to clinch the title by one shot ahead of world No. 1 Rahm.
The American began his title pursuit in perfect style, rolling in a birdie on the par three second after hitting a superb tee shot to six feet, to expand his narrow two-shot lead at the top to three earlier on in Sunday’s final round.
Despite this, Cantlay’s work was far from done as just three holes later a two-shot swing on the par four fifth saw Rahm get right back into the race, after the Spaniard capitalised on a rare mistake from his day four playing partner.
After the leader found himself in trouble in the right-hand side rough, the world No. 1 made his move from the fairway as he hit a stunning approach from just over 100 yards, inches away from the hole.
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Rahm would go on to tap in his close range putt for birdie, whilst Cantlay’s difficulties would see him come away with a frustrating bogey to cut his three-shot lead to just one.
However, this one shot difference was soon moved to two, after the American provided the perfect reaction to his drop shot by carding a birdie four on the very next hole at the par five sixth to move him one step closer to the FedEx Cup prize.
In spite of this, another dropped shot was soon round the corner for the American as he failed to capitalise on his birdie at the sixth by carding his second bogey of the afternoon at the par three ninth.
The top two players had produced some remarkable golf throughout the Tour season. Cantlay, the man with the most PGA Tour wins this campaign, and Rahm the world’s best golfer.
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As a result, these two golfing greats continued their battle as they headed through their final nine holes of the season, matching each other shot-for-shot as the Atlanta sun fell over East Lake.
After the top two parred six straight holes in a row following the turn, Cantlay made his move birdieing the par four 16th thanks to another stunning iron shot into the green to regain a two shot-lead with two holes to play.
However, in typical FedEx Cup play-off fashion there was still time for another twist in the tale, as just as he did on his opening nine, Cantlay followed up his birdie with another agonising bogey to once again give Rahm a final hope heading to the 18th tee.
After the longest PGA Tour season on record, once again East Lake’s famous final hole would be the stage to decide this year’s FedEx Cup champion. With Cantlay leading by one, all the 29-year-old needed to do was to match his playing partner’s score one final time to earn his first ever FedEx crown, and that he did.
The pair both sent their tee shots on the final hole down the bounding par five fairway in style and Rahm ensured he would battle his way until the very end, flying in a stunning second shot just past the flagstick to leave him on the edge of the green with a real chance of making eagle.
Cantlay had earned the nickname ‘Patty Ice’ in recent weeks, due to his remarkable ability to remain ice-cool in the most pressurising of moments. And once again the 29-year-old lived up to the name as he followed up Rahm’s impressive approach with one of his own, flying his 217-yard second shot 11-feet from the hole.
Both would go on to make birdie which was enough to crown Cantlay the Tour Championship winner, and more importantly FedEx Cup champion for the very first time in his career.
After an epic three weeks of FedEx Cup play-off golf both Cantlay and Rahm will take a well-earned week off, away from the golf course before coming face-to-face once again as they take on each other at this year’s Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in two weeks’ time.
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