ATLANTA — Patrick Cantlay delivered the goods again, this time with a 6-iron instead of a putter.
“Patty Ice” was just as clutch with a $15 million shot that allowed him to hold off Jon Rahm and win the FedEx Cup on Sunday.
In a tense duel with the world’s No. 1 player, Cantlay had a one-shot lead going to the par-5 18th hole at the Tour Championship when he hit 6-iron from 218 yards to just inside 12 feet that secured the biggest victory of his career.
“Felt like a huge win, and it was,” Cantlay said.
Rahm’s shot was equally special, landing next to the hole on its second bounce but rolling to the light rough beyond the green.
With Cantlay in close, the Spaniard had to hole the chip to have any chance of a playoff. He narrowly missed, and Cantlay safely two-putted for birdie and 1-under 69.
The victory was worth $15 million for Cantlay, a 29-year-old Californian whose rise in golf was slowed by a back injury that kept him out for three years and nearly ended his career.
Now he has stamped himself among the elite in golf, boosted by the FedEx Cup postseason.
“It’s fantastic,” Cantlay said. “It’s such a great honor because it’s all year. I played really consistent all year and caught fire at the end. There’s a lot of satisfaction considering all the work I’m put in my whole life.”
Cantlay showed remarkable grit and clutch in surviving a six-hole playoff to beat Bryson DeChambeau in the BMW Championship last week. That’s where he picked up the moniker “Patty Ice,” along with the No. 1 seed to start the Tour Championship with a two-shot lead.
He never flinched over four days at East Lake.
“It was tough,” he said. “It’s definitely the longest lead I’ve ever held.”
Rahm, who started the tournament four shots behind and went into the final day two back, never caught Cantlay. He never let him breathe easy, either.
Cantlay took a two-shot lead with an approach to 6 feet for birdie on the 17th hole, and then nearly lost it all. He drove to the right on the 17th, clipping a tree and dropping down into deep rough, and then hit a flyer over the green and the gallery. His pitch back to the green came up short and into more deep rough, and he had to make a 6-footer to save bogey and stay ahead.
With Rahm well down the 18th fairway, Cantlay hit his best drive of the day, rolling out 361 yards that set up a 6-iron he felt he needed to hit close.
Rahm was bogey-free over the last 28 holes, but he only cashed in on two birdies. He closed with a 68 and tied with Kevin Na for the 72-hole score of the tournament at 14-under 266. They will split points toward the world ranking.
Cantlay started at 10-under par and finished at 21 under.
“Patrick played great golf, and he was four shots ahead of me. And even though I might have been the better man over the week, he earned it,” Rahm said. “That up-and-down after missing from 17, the second shot from 18 to almost make it is even more impressive.
“I think you can say he won this.”
Rahm earned the $5 million consolation prize for finishing second in the FedEx Cup, while Na (67) picked up $4 million. Justin Thomas (70) birdied the last hole to finish fourth, which was worth $4 million.
Cantlay started the postseason by saying he did not like the format of the Tour Championship with the staggered start depending on a players’ FedEx Cup position, and no official victory for the lowest score at the Tour Championship.
“With that said, I am going to do the best possible job I can at winning in this format, because that’s all I can do,” he said Wednesday.
And that’s what he did, delivering a big moment that might bring yet another title.
Cantlay won for the fourth time this season, and no one else more than twice. One of those victories was the Memorial, where Rahm had a six-shot lead after 54 holes and had to withdraw because of a positive COVID-19 test result.
That figures to make him a front-runner for PGA Tour player of the year, with Rahm (U.S. Open title, No. 1 ranking) and Collin Morikawa (British Open, World Golf Championship title), also likely to be on the ballot.
Rahm won the Vardon Trophy for the lowest adjusted scoring average.