Patrick Cantlay knows he doesn’t smile much—here’s why the scowl works for him

June 3, 2019

After his win on Sunday at the Memorial, Patrick Cantlay recounted a spot of advice tournament host Jack Nicklaus had passed on earlier in the week.

“Look around when you’re out there. Look at all the people having a great time,” Nicklaus told him. “And then you need to have a great time and realize that that’s why you’re there and relax and go have fun and go win the golf tournament.”

Cantlay said that mindset helped him down the stretch on Sunday, putting him at ease in big moments en route to capturing his second — and biggest — PGA Tour win with a scorching final-round 64. But if Cantlay was having fun, it was hard to tell from the outside. He’s the master of the scowl, rarely breaking character even on a day like Sunday, when everything was going well. In contrast to an emotive, grinning, fist-pumping legend like Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson, Cantlay is closer to the style of Brooks Koepka.

“I think I’m very stone-faced, very focused, and I also don’t want to give guys an idea of what’s going on,” Koepka said at the PGA Championship. Cantlay was asked something similar on Sunday evening.

Is Patrick Cantlay primed to become the world's best golfer?
Is Patrick Cantlay primed to become the world's best golfer?
Getty Images

“You always have a very locked-in look on your face. I don’t believe you smiled at all until you rolled that putt in on 18,” one reporter said in Cantlay’s winning press conference. “Are you aware that that’s kind of the look that you’re exuding?”

Cantlay flashed a cheeky smile in response — but added that he’s not necessarily trying to change it. “I understand that’s my look,” he said. “I try and be natural. So I try and be how I am all the time. And that’s kind of how I am all the time.”

Cantlay also recounted one fan from the morning who had heckled him about his expression. “It can’t be that bad, can it?”

“And I don’t even realize that’s the look on my face. I was in a great mood this morning,” Cantlay said. “So I understand how you could say that. But I feel like if I tried to be any way else, it wouldn’t be me. I’d be trying to force it. So I just try and be me out there. I definitely am focused and intent on what I’m doing. And I think that’s part of me and I think that’s part of why I have success.”

Nicklaus, sitting beside Cantlay in the press conference, mentioned that he noticed another moment of happiness.

“I said to him earlier in the week, ‘Let’s figure out how to finish this golf tournament and enjoy it.’ And he walked off of 15th green with a smile, and I said, ‘I think he’s enjoying it.’”

The win catapulted Cantlay to a career-best No. 8 in the world ranking and earned him over $1.6 million — plus the knowledge that he can close out a golf tournament when he’s in contention. He ended the presser sounding confident.

“I know I’m going to be in all the biggest tournaments and I’m going to show up there, I’m going to get extremely prepared, and I’m going to be ready to win.”

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