Long Beach native edges Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas in back-9 showdown at Sherwood Country Club for his 3rd PGA Tour title
Cantlay, who was born and raised in Long Beach and attended UCLA, rallied to win the Zozo Championship on Sunday at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks. Sparked by three consecutive birdies on the back nine, he shot 7-under 65 for a 23-under 265 total (scores).
Cantlay, who was No. 14 in the world ranking, held off the Nos. 2 and 3 players in the world, Spain’s Jon Rahm and American Justin Thomas, respectively. They tied for second at 22-under 266.
“I was hitting a lot of good shots today, so I felt really comfortable with my swing,” Cantlay said.
A two-putt birdie at the par-5 13th started a run of three birdies in a row for Cantlay, and he never trailed again. He sank a 17-foot birdie putt on the 14th hole and then seized the momentum with a 7-iron to 10 feet at the 176-yard par-3 15th, with the hole cut near the front over a precarious penalty area, for another birdie. The birdie marked a pivotal swing in fortunes as Thomas, who was paired with Rahm in the final two-ball, one group behind Cantlay, made bogey.
“I just didn't play very well,” said Thomas, the 54-hole leader. “It's unfortunate because I feel like I usually could have shot 5 under out there. To play the par 5s 1 under is just unacceptable if you're trying to win a golf tournament. I fought like hell. I fought as hard as I could. I just didn't have my best stuff.”
Cantlay, in contrast, said he was playing with some momentum and felt at ease all week.
“I’ve been playing really well but haven’t really put it together for four days,” Cantlay said. “I felt very comfortable. I like this overcast weather.”
Cantlay, 28, who played two years of college golf at UCLA, was a celebrated amateur, winning the Haskins Award, college golf’s version of the Heisman Trophy, as a freshman, and the McCormack Medal as the world’s top amateur.
Tiger Woods, playing in his first tournament since he missed the cut in the U.S. Open in mid-September, faded to a tie for 72nd. He was the defending champion and had won five times at Sherwood when it hosted the World Challenge, an unofficial PGA Tour event.
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