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Cantlay suddenly on the verge of Tour Championship

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Look at Patrick Cantlay’s 2017 stats and you’ll see that this week’s BMW Championship marks only his 12th start of the year. But take a glance at his postseason performance, and you’ll quickly realize that these days he’s looking more and more like a seasoned veteran.

Cantlay cracked the top 15 in each of the first two playoff events, and he’s well on his way to putting up a similar result after rounds of 67-65 at Conway Farms Golf Club, where he sits alone in fourth place heading into the weekend.

Cantlay racked up seven birdies during his second round, and after starting the week at No. 41, he is now projected to make the 30-man Tour Championship. It’s a result that may turn a few heads, but not one that surprises him.

“I prepare and practice in order to put myself in position to win tournaments, and I feel like I’m able to do that,” Cantlay said. “My prep has been good. My body is feeling really good, which is nice for a change, and looking forward to just keep doing what I’m doing.”

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Standing on the precipice of East Lake seemed like an unlikely scenario when Cantlay started the year at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, looking for starts and simply hoping to satisfy the requirements of his medical extension after a back injury sidelined him since 2014. But he took care of that with a runner-up finish in Tampa, added a T-3 at the RBC Heritage and hasn’t missed a cut all year.

“I don’t even think about cuts or anything like that,” he said. “I’m just trying to go out and win the tournament every week. That’s the only goal. I think with that attitude, that stuff takes care of itself.”

Cantlay seemed like the next can’t-miss prospect back in 2011, when he was a runner-up at the U.S. Amateur and fired a 60 at the Travelers Championship as an amateur. While off-course injuries have kept him from realizing that potential, he has quickly made up for lost time and now feels like his game stacks up favorably to the heights of six years ago.

“I feel stronger and I feel like I’m able to hit the ball a little farther,” he said. “I just feel like I have maybe a little better idea of how to prep for tournaments and what to expect out here when I get out here. Definitely more comfortable.”