NEWTON SQUARE, Pa. — Does anyone remember how they spent the summer between their freshman and sophomore years in college? I hardly do because it obviously wasn’t memorable (but I think I worked on my golf game and had a part-time job). In ten years I doubt Patrick Cantlay, a rising sophomore at UCLA, will have the same problem. Cantlay, 19, finished T21 at the US Open, earning him Low-Amateur honors, and then held the lead after two rounds at the Travelers Championship, where he eventually T24. As an amateur, he isn’t going to see a cent of the $143,667 that he would have won, and that’s perfectly fine with him. When you’re a junior and collegiate golfer, the only thing you care about is playing your best and putting yourself in position to win. Probably because you’re too young to know any better.
Of the last few weeks, Cantlay considers the back nine of his second round of the US Open at Congressional the most special, along with firing a 10-under 60 in the second round of the Travelers Championship.
“I’ll remember those two moments forever, but really, I’ll remember the US Open week the rest of my life,” said Cantlay during his presser at AT&T National where he’s playing on a sponsor’s exemption. “It was really special. And having Jamie [Mulligan, my instructor] on the bag and my family was there, it was just such an awesome experience, my first US Open, my first professional event.”
Two weeks ago at Congressional, Cantlay was six-over through eight holes of his second round and then he played the last ten six-under to make the cut.
“I’ll just remember the feeling that I had when I walked off the 18th that day,” he said.
(I have goosebumps from thinking about how awesome that feeling was. I can only imagine.)
Cantlay has been learning from these experiences for the future and his success has boosted his confidence.
“I’m not surprised with the way I played, but it just reaffirmed my belief that I think I can play out here eventually and right now I can compete out here,” said Cantlay. “It just makes me feel good about the future.”
All the attention and fame have been completely new to him. The most bizarre thing that’s happened?
“First time I ever signed an autograph where someone brought my picture up (of me from high school), so I signed my own picture,” said Cantlay. “That was yesterday. That was a little shocking.
“But other than that, I’m just learning the golf course just like every other week and trying to get real comfortable out there and have a good week.”
Cantlay says he enjoys old-style golf courses and if US Open-like conditions suit his game, then look for him to play well at Aronimink Golf Club. The course is already fast and firm, the greens are lightning fast, and the rough is deep and thick. (When I played it in October, the fairways were bouncing, the rough was tough and the greens were slick, so I can’t imagine what it’s like now! I think it’s more difficult than Merion, where I teed up the day before Aronimink.)
In fact, Aronimink might be playing more like a US Open than the actual US Open!
(AP Photo/Barbara Johnston)