THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Sherwood Country Club isn’t close enough to Long Beach for Patrick Cantlay to consider it a home game. It’s an L.A. thing, driven by the area’s horrendous traffic and regional loyalties.
“I grew up about an hour and a half away and there's a lot of golf between here and there,” Cantlay said of Sherwood, which he had never played before this week.
The Long Beach native was just being honest. Of course, that attitude will likely change following Sunday’s final round of the Zozo Championship.
After starting the day three strokes off the lead on a course that was yielding a record number of birdies, Cantlay won his third PGA Tour title thanks to an eventful final round.
Cantlay got off to a fast start with five birdies through his first nine holes but it wasn’t until he rolled in a 17-footer for birdie at No. 14 that he emerged as a contender. Until then, it was Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas trading birdies and dueling for the title.
Rahm, who was perfect on Saturday with a 9-under 63, stumbled first with back-to-back bogeys at Nos. 12 and 13, and the Spaniard was unable to convert birdie attempts from 18 and 19 feet on Nos. 17 and 18, respectively, to force extra holes.
Thomas also went cold on the closing nine with a bogey at the 15th and just one birdie over his final nine holes to finish tied with Rahm in second place at 22 under.
With a three-stroke lead and three holes to play Cantlay opened the door with a bogey at No. 16 when his approach shot clipped a tree, but neither Rahm nor Thomas were able to take advantage of the mistake.
“I didn't know exactly where I was on the leaderboard. I thought I still had to make birdies, so I was firing right at that flagstick and I pulled it a little bit,” said Cantlay, who closed with a 65.
For Cantlay it was a rewarding victory following a handful of near misses in recent months, not to mention Sherwood’s proximity to Long Beach which might be an hour and half away from his hometown, but he’ll take it.
“It's really great to win at home," he said. "I look forward to hopefully winning at Riviera, and anytime you win close to home it just feels a little sweeter."