04 Sep 2021, 10:58

Cantlay stays one in front of Rahm in US PGA Tour Championship

  WASHINGTON, Sept 4, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - Patrick Cantlay rolled in an eight-

foot birdie putt at the final hole Friday to stay one stroke in front of top-
ranked Jon Rahm in the US PGA Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta.

   Cantlay started the day two shots in front of Rahm and had four birdies
without a blemish in his four-under 64. That included a 15-footer at the 17th
and his testing effort at 18 that preserved his lead on 17-under after Rahm
had closed with three straight birdies.

   Rahm finished with six birdies against one bogey in his five-under 65.

   That put him at 16-under in the tournament that features a staggered start
in which players were staked to strokes based on their spot in the playoff

   After his victory in the BMW Championship last week, Cantlay was ranked
first and had a two-stroke lead, on 10-under, heading to the very first tee
on Thursday.

   Rahm started the tournament four off the pace, but has steadily eaten into
that deficit, and Cantlay said it was "definitely" important to drain that
final birdie.

   "I think I've gotten all the par-fives so far, four birdies on the four
par-fives I've played, and it's important around this golf course because the
fives are gettable.

   "But every putt out there is important and I know they will be important
when I get there later on the weekend.

   "It was nice to finish with a couple birdies and kind of validate the
patience that I had all day," Cantlay added.

   Rahm had four birdies on the back nine, including a 36-footer from off the
green at the 13th.

   He bogeyed 14 after hitting into the trees off the tee and missing the
green with his third shot.

   "I hit some really good shots (to) make the birdies," he said. "At the
same time, there were some bad shots out there. I didn't play 10 or 11 good
at all.

   "I made a great save for bogey on 14, a great up-and-down as well at 15.

   "So I think that's the key and that's been the key all week. I've been
able to get a lot of good up-and-downs, and avoiding those mistakes is what
allows me to keep going," added Rahm, whose five-under round matched the
lowest of the day, also shot by Japan's Hideki Matsuyama.

   After his nine-foot birdie at 16, Rahm rolled in a 15-footer at 17 and at
18 his shot from a greenside bunker landed inches from the cup.

   - DeChambeau six adrift -

   Rahm said he and playing partner Cantlay fed off each other as they
separated themselves from the field.

   "Even though I want to focus on myself, every time you see a score, you
know he's not going to let up and he keeps putting it in the fairway and on
the green and in the fairway and on the green -- it can raise your playing
level a little bit as well as much as me raising his level when I'm making
birdies," Rahm said.

   "So we definitely feed off each other and that's probably why you see the
difference in the scoreboard right now."

   Bryson DeChambeau was alone in third on 11-under. The big-hitting American
chipped in on 17 and saved birdie from a greenside bunker at 18, rebounding
from back-to-back bogeys at 13 and 14 to post a three-under par 67.

   He was one stroke in front of American Justin Thomas with another five-
players at nine-under.

   Rahm and Cantlay both said they were trying to focus only on their games
and put the staggered start out of their minds, and even with a $15 million
bonus on offer to the winner of the playoff race, Rahm said he'd be
approaching the weekend like any other.

   "I'm just going to keep doing exactly what I've been doing this week,
nothing special," he said. "Again, just trying to hit the best shot I can at
each moment. That's it."




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