Cantlay keeps BMW diadem

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Defending FedEx Cup playoff champion Patrick Cantlay won his second consecutive BMW Championship on Sunday, becoming the first player to successfully defend a PGA Tour playoff title.

World No. 4 Cantlay recovered from a two-stroke deficit on the back nine to defeat US compatriot Scott Stallings thanks to a key break and clutch putting.

Cantlay fired a two-under par 69 to finish 72 holes at Wilmington Country Club in Delaware on 14-under 270 and edge Stallings by a stroke.

“I played a lot of great golf this week and I’m happy to come out of here with a win,” Cantlay said.

Stallings shared the lead with Cantlay when he dropped his approach nine feet from the cup at 18, but Stallings missed the pressure-packed birdie putt and settled for a closing par.

Cantlay, meanwhile, had his tee shot at 17 bounce out of the rough and onto the fairway. He pitched the ball to six feet and sank the clutch birdie putt to seize the lead.

At 18, Cantlay blasted out of a bunker to 46 feet, then lipped out his birdie putt and tapped in for par and the historic triumph.

“I hit a lot of solid shots and then I got a couple of good breaks,” Cantlay said.

“On 17, that break is something I’m not expecting and it was really big for me to take advantage of it.”

Cantlay could also become the first to repeat as FedEx Cup champion next week in the season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta.

World number one Scottie Scheffler, who shared third with Tokyo Olympic champion Xander Schauffele on 273, topped the season points chase will start next week at East Lake at 10-under par with a two-stroke lead over Cantlay.

The reigning Masters champion will also have a staggered margin over the rest of a 30-player field chasing the FedEx Cup playoff title Cantlay hopes to defend.

“I made a lot of clutch 5- and 4-footers today — putter felt really good,” Cantlay said.

“I was pretty solid and I’ll carry that into next week.”

Cantlay, 30, won his eighth career PGA title and second of the year after sharing the Zurich Classic pairs title with pal Schauffele.

South Korean Lee Kyoung-hoon shot 65 to share fifth on 274 with Canada’s Corey Conners and Australia’s Adam Scott.

Scott, the 2013 Masters champion, blasted out of a bunker at 18 and parred the last to shoot 71 and reach the Tour Championship, denying Ireland’s Shane Lowry a spot.

Lee was 31st in points last year to miss Atlanta, what he called “a really cruel spot.”

“Lot of pressure this week,” Lee said.

“I wanted to make the top 30 but my goal was to never think about my position and play my best.”

Moving into top-30 spots to qualify for Atlanta this week were Scott, Lee, Stallings and American Aaron Wise while those knocked out were Americans J.J. Spaun, Kevin Kisner and Davis Riley and South Koren Kim Joo-hyung.

Two-time major champion Collin Morikawa found the water twice with wedges on his way to a 10 at the par-5 12th, his worst score on any hole in his PGA career. He shot 79 to share 44th on 283.

Cantlay, who began the day with a
one-stroke lead, rolled in a birdie putt from just outside 18 feet at the fourth but made bogey at the eighth and shared the lead at the turn with Stallings.

When Stallings sank an
11-foot birdie putt at the 11th and Cantlay missed a 10-foot par putt at the 10th, Stallings was ahead by two.

Cantlay responded with a birdie at 11, dropping a putt from just inside 14 feet, and made a tense six-foot par putt at the tricky 12th while Stallings stumbled with a bogey at the par-3 13th, leaving them level for the lead once again.

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