This sneaky putting tactic helped fuel Patrick Cantlay’s historically good week at BMW

cantlay lining up putt at bmw

Over longer putts (pictured), Cantlay does not use an alignment aid. Over shorter putts, he said he now does.

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How good was BMW Championship winner Patrick Cantlay’s week on the Caves Valley greens?

Historic.

In the 17 years that the PGA Tour has employed its ShotLink technology to monitor every shot by every player in (almost) every tournament, no Tour pro — statistically speaking — has had a more dominant putting week. Cantlay picked up a mind-bending 14.577 strokes on the greens on his competitors, which, according to stats whiz Justin Ray, topped the Strokes Gained era record previously held by Kevin Na (2019 Shriners).  

A few other Cantlay numbers to wrap your (putter) head around:

— Total feet of putts holed for the week: 537’5” (not including the six playoff holes!), or an average of about 134 feet per round

— Number of 20-plus-footers he needed to make to keep his hopes alive in the last five holes: 2

— Number of new putters in his bag: 1 (a Scotty Cameron Phantom X 5 he added to his arsenal at the Northern Trust last week)

— Number of nicknames earned at Caves Valley for his steeliness on the greens: 1 (“Patty Ice”)

— Number of three-putts: nadda!    

Cantlay’s secret? “I think staying below the hole is very important,” he said after dispatching Bryson DeChambeau in a riveting bonus session. “I think the greens have lots of pitch, usually back to front, and the greens are very fast, so as many uphill putts as you can get, then you really have some chances of making some.”

But that wasn’t all.

Cantlay also revealed a new alignment tactic that he employed this week, one that you’re just as likely see in your Saturday-morning fourball as you are in the nervy moments of a FedEx Cup Playoff event: Cantlay, for the first time, used a line on his ball — but only in very specific situations.  

Cantlay knocking in a shortie on Sunday.

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“I use it on shorter putts if they don’t have very much break,” Cantlay said. “I thought it just maybe got me a little more specific on the really straight short putts. I don’t use it on very many putts, but I think it’s helping a little bit on three- to five-footers.”

Indeed, from three to five feet this week, Cantlay was a perfect 41 for 41.

That Cantlay hadn’t been using an alignment aid on shorties is unusual. As Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs wrote on GOLF.com last year: “The majority of professional and collegiate golfers use the line on short putts, especially those that are not starting outside the hole. Many of those players don’t use the line on putts with large amounts of break or outside 15-20 feet.”

Is an alignment line right for your game?

Only one way to find out: experiment, and soon enough you’ll know if it’s an effective aid. Riggs added one caveat: “If you become obsessed with the line and unable to make subtle adjustments while you are standing over the ball you will be turning off some of the athletic instincts that can make a player special.”

Alan Bastable

Golf.com Editor

As GOLF.com’s executive editor, Bastable is responsible for the editorial direction and voice of one of the game’s most respected and highly trafficked news and service sites. He wears many hats — editing, writing, ideating, developing, daydreaming of one day breaking 80 — and feels privileged to work with such an insanely talented and hardworking group of writers, editors and producers. Before grabbing the reins at GOLF.com, he was the features editor at GOLF Magazine. A graduate of the University of Richmond and the Columbia School of Journalism, he lives in New Jersey with his wife and foursome of kids.