Thursday, March 30, 2017

Cantlay secures card, rues poor finish at Valspar

PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Patrick Cantlay wasn’t in the mood for consolation prizes Sunday, not after bogeying two of the last four holes to lose by one at the Valspar Championship. But he received one anyway.

Playing this year on a major medical extension, Cantlay needed to earn 381 FedEx Cup points or $606,849 to keep his card. His runner-up finish at Innisbrook will satisfy that requirement, freeing him up for the rest of the season.

“It didn’t really feel like a burden to begin with,” he said. “I wasn’t too worried about that. It doesn’t really feel like much consolation at the moment. I didn’t finish the deal.”

Valspar Championship: Articles, photos and videos

The former No. 1-ranked amateur in the world, who over the past few years was beset by injuries and tragedy in his personal life, entered the final round of the Valspar four shots behind Adam Hadwin. After failing to make up any ground over the first eight holes Sunday, Cantlay ripped off five birdies in a six-hole span to move within one shot of the lead.

Cantlay bogeyed the 15th hole, after finding the greenside bunker, and then dropped another shot on 18, when he couldn’t get up-and-down from a bunker short and right. For the week, he was 1 of 6 in sand saves.

“I just didn’t hit the greatest bunker shots,” he said. “They were both kind of skinny lies and there wasn’t a lot of sand in there. They were a little tough. But I shouldn’t hit it in the bunkers to begin with.”

Cantlay’s start at Pebble Beach last month was his only tournament since November 2014, but he said he didn’t feel any competitive rust this week. It didn’t look like it, either – he ranked second in the Tour’s total strokes gained category.

“Everything felt good,” he said. “It’s funny how fast it comes back, actually. Really, it doesn’t feel like I’ve taken as much time off as I have.”

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