Patty Ice! Cantlay, behind a clutch final stretch, defends BMW crown

Patrick Cantlay hits out of a bunker on Sunday at Wilmington Country Club.

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Patrick Cantlay’s year had been fine — 10 top 10s, a victory at the team event with buddy Xander Schauffele — when Patty Ice appeared again. You remember him? He was the dude who froze everyone at last year’s BMW Championship, then won the next week, at the Tour Championship, and here he was again, again at the BMW, stone cold, opening with rounds of 68, 68 and 65 and starting Sunday’s final round with a one-stroke lead. 

All of which begs this question:

How does Patty Ice turn up — or is it turn down? — the thermostat?

“I think maybe in the bigger tournaments it’s easier to kind of narrow your focus, and I’ve done a good job of staying in the moment and trying to get in the right frame of mind and good attitude,” Cantlay said.  

Yes, he was all that. 

In the end, Cantlay held off a determined Scott Stallings, shot a four-birdie, two-bogey 69 at Wilmington Country Club and won the BMW by a shot over Stallings. It was Cantlay’s eighth PGA Tour victory, and this win was vintage Cantlay, especially late. He bogeyed 10 and was down two before he started this stretch:

— Birdie on the par-4 11th on a 13-footer to move one back of Stallings. 

— Birdie on the 622-yard, par-5 14th after getting home in two to move into a share of the lead with Stallings. 

— Birdie on the par-4 17th, behind the break of the tournament. Cantlay hit his tee shot right, then his ball kicked off the downslope behind a fairway bunker and finished in the fairway. From there, from just 64 yards away, he hit to 5 feet, and the birdie gave Cantlay a one-shot lead. 

— Par on the par-4 18th, behind one of the better shots of the tournament. Cantlay again hit his tee shot right, into the right upslope of the right fairway bunker, and he hit a fine left-to-right shot to 46 feet. From there, he nearly rolled in the birdie putt, and he tapped in.

And he was your winner, the first to defend a title in the 16 years of the Tour’s FedEx Cup Playoffs. He can turn the trick again next week at the Tour Championship. 

The takeaway 

Ice cold. These playoff events aren’t easy. The accomplishment is outstanding. 

The leaderboard breakdown 

— Patrick Cantlay leads by one entering the final round. He’s at 12-under, Xander Schauffele and Scott Stallings are at 11-under, Adam Scott and Scottie Scheffler are at 10-under, and Collin Morikawa and Aaron Wise are at nine-under. 

— Stallings birdies the 563-yard, par-5 3rd on a 6-foot birdie putt, and he moves into a share of the lead. Cantlay and Stallings are at 12-under, Schauffele is at 10-under, and Scheffler and Scott are at nine-under.

— Cantlay birdies the 417-yard, par-4 4th, and he retakes a one-shot lead. He’s at 13-under, Stallings is at 12-under, Schauffele is at 10-under, and Scheffler and Scott are at nine-under. 

— Stallings bogeys the 504-yard, par-4 5th, and Cantlay now leads by two. Cantlay is at 13-under, Stallings is at 11-under, Schauffele is at 10-under, and Scheffler and Scott are at nine-under. 

— Stallings birdies the 387-yard, par-4 6th after hitting his second shot to 2 feet, and he moves to within a shot of the lead. Cantlay is at 13-under, Stallings is at 12-under, Scott and Schauffele are at 10-under, and K.H. Lee and Joaquin Niemann are at nine-under. 

— Cantlay bogeys the 489-yard, par-4 8th after missing the green with his second shot, and he drops into a share of the lead. Cantlay and Stallings are at 12-under, Schauffele is at 11-under, Lee is at 10-under, and Niemann, Scheffler, Shane Lowry and Corey Conners are at nine-under. 

— Schauffele birdies the 479-yard, par-4 9th on a 12-foot putt, and he moves to one back of the lead. Cantlay and Stallings are at 12-under, Schauffele is at 11-under, Lee is at 10-under, and Scheffler, Conners and Jon Rahm are at nine-under. 

— Stallings birdies the 415-yard, par-4 11th after rolling in a 10-footer, and he takes a one-shot lead. He’s at 13-under, Cantlay is at 12-under, Schauffele is at 11-under, and Lee and Taylor Pendrith are at 10-under. 

— Cantlay bogeys the 442-yard, par-4 10th after missing the green with his second shot, and Stallings now leads by two. Stallings is at 13-under, Cantlay and Schauffele are at 11-under, and Lee and Pendrith are at 10-under. 

— Cantlay birdies the 11th on a 13-foot putt, and he moves within a shot of the lead. Stallings is at 13-under, Cantlay is at 12-under, Schauffele is at 11-under, and Lee, Scheffler and Scott are at 10-under. 

— Stallings bogeys the 150-yard, par-3 after his birdie putt, from near the fringe collar, hits it, and he drops into a share of the lead. Stallings and Cantlay are at 12-under, Schauffele is at 11-under, and Lee, Scheffler, Scott and Aaron Wise are at 10-under. 

— Stallings birdies the 622-yard, par-5 14th after getting home in two, and he takes a one-shot lead. He’s at 13-under, Cantlay is at 12-under, Scheffler and Schauffele are at 11-under, and Lee is at 10-under.  

— Scheffler birdies the 393-yard, par-4 16th, and he moves to one back. Stallings is at 13-under, Cantlay and Scheffler are at 12-under, Schauffele is at 11-under, and Lee and Scott are at 10-under. 

— Cantlay birdies the 14th after getting home in two, and he moves into a share of the lead. Cantlay and Stallings are at 13-under, Scheffler is at 12-under, Schauffele is at 11-under, and Lee, Scott and Conners are at 10-under. 

— Scheffler misses a 3-footer on the 444-yard, par-4 18th, and he drops two back. Cantlay and Stallings are at 13-under, Scheffler and Schuffele are at 11-under, and Lee, Conners and Scott are at 10-under. 

— Stallings misses a 9-footer for birdie on the 18th, and he finishes at 13-under. Cantlay is also at 13-under. Scheffler and Schauffele are at 11-under, and Lee, Conners and Scott are at 10-under. 

— Cantlay, after a tee shot that was heading into a left fairway bunker, only to bounce left and into the fairway, birdies the 420-yard, par-4 17th after hitting his second shot to 5 feet, and he takes a one-shot lead. He’s at 14-under, Stallings is at 13-under, and Scheffler and Schauffele are at 11-under. 

— On the 18th, Cantlay hits his tee into the right upslope of the right fairway bunker, and he hits his second shot to 46 feet. Cantlay two-putts, barely missing the birdie, and he wins his eighth PGA Tour title. 

The final word 

“I hit a lot of solid shots, and I got a couple good breaks. Obviously on 17, that break is something I’m not expecting and it was really big for me to take advantage of it. I mean, I played a lot of great golf this week, and I’m happy to come out of here with a win.” — Cantlay on NBC after his victory 

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.