CROMWELL, Conn. – When Tiger Woods turned professional, he declared with bravado, “Hello, world.” In his first round as a pro on Thursday, highly touted Patrick Cantlay could have uttered, “Hello, cruel world.”
The 20-year-old’s play-for-pay debut started auspiciously enough, as he ripped a drive down the 10th fairway and walked off the teebox stride for stride with fellow youngster Ryo Ishikawa, engaged in conversation the entire time.
He would par that opening hole, but followed with double-bogeys on each of the next two, the result of a poor tee shot on the par-3 11th and a drive that landed out of bounds on the par-4 12th.
By the time the smoke cleared and the dust settled, Cantlay had posted a 5-over 75, leaving him well down the leaderboard on a scorching day that featured plenty of under-par scores.
Afterward, he took it all in stride.
“There’s time. I mean, this is my first round as a pro,” he explained. “I was just trying to play each shot the best I could.”
With no status on the PGA Tour, it would make sense if Cantlay was feeling pressure to succeed early and try to gain inclusion into more events, but he maintained he wasn’t feeling any such pressure on the course.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “You know, a good one tomorrow and everything is fixed.”
If he needs a good one on Friday at TPC-River Highlands, at least he knows he can do it.
Last year, Cantlay posted a second-round 60 while playing this event as an amateur – the best PGA Tour score ever for an amateur – and later finished T-24.
“I think last year was really big for me,” he said. “It gave me a lot of confidence.”
He’ll need to bottle some of that confidence in order to turn things around in his second round in this brave, new world of professional golf on Friday.