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Patrick Cantlay outduels Bryson DeChambeau to win BMW Championship on sixth playoff hole

Patrick Cantlay beat Bryson DeChambeau on the sixth hole of a playoff at the BMW Championship. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — In one of the most scintillating conclusions to a tournament in PGA Tour history, Patrick Cantlay sank an 18-foot putt on the sixth playoff hole to outlast Bryson DeChambeau and win the BMW Championship on Sunday night at Caves Valley Golf Club.

Cantlay claimed the second leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs moments after his approach with a 6-iron landed on the No. 18 green and came to rest below the hole. That allowed him to be aggressive with a birdie putt that yielded his fifth PGA Tour win, the No. 1 seed at this week’s Tour Championship and the sixth and final automatic qualifying spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

DeChambeau had a putt just inside nine feet to extend the playoff but missed right, ending a round in which the 2020 U.S. Open champion failed to take advantage of one opportunity after the next to win a tournament. Both players shot 6-under-par 66s to finish 27 under for the tournament and force the playoff.

“I’m just as focused as I can be,” Cantlay said during a post-round interview with the Golf Channel while standing on the 18th green. “If I look the way I do, it’s because I’m locked in and focused.”

Chants of “Patty Ice” reverberated from the gallery surrounding the 18th green soon after Cantlay’s decisive putt, underscoring a part of his game that kept him in the tournament down the stretch when at times it appeared DeChambeau held the advantage with his remarkable power.

Cantlay acknowledged the support by removing his cap and waving one arm up and down, as if imploring fans to keep cheering as the sun began to set on the first PGA Tour event held in the Baltimore area since 1962.

And what a treat it was for the thousands in attendance who witnessed Cantlay sink clutch putts without blinking, including a seven-footer on the second playoff hole and another from 5½ feet on the previous hole.

Cantlay, the first three-time winner on tour this season, finished the tournament first in strokes gained putting at 16.431, setting a PGA Tour record. He made putts covering 537½ feet to establish a personal record.

“It’s so nice to be back with fans, and they were just so supportive all day,” Cantlay said. “They’ve been supportive for the last four days. Just the chants of Patty or Patty Ice, I’m hearing it all week, and it’s fun. It’s great to have them back, and they were awesome today.”

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Also brilliant was Cantlay’s iron play, most notably when he landed his tee shot on the fifth playoff hole, the par-3 17th, within 2½ feet. That shot came after DeChambeau’s tee shot settled six feet from the pin. Both made their birdie putts to extend the playoff.

Trailing by a shot heading to the 72nd hole, Cantlay forced the playoff by sinking a 22-foot putt for a birdie after DeChambeau landed his approach inside of 13 feet on a hole where he outdrove his opponent by 30 yards. But DeChambeau’s putt for the win never had a chance, sailing well left of the cup.

Pulling putts proved problematic for DeChambeau throughout the tournament, including at No. 17, where he missed an 13-footer for par. He faced that distance when his chip from the greenside rough barely got out of the grass, landing well short of the flagstick.

He also pulled a six-footer at No. 18 on Friday that would have given him a 59 for the 13th sub-60 round in PGA Tour history.

Cantlay, meanwhile, made his eight-footer for a bogey at the par-3 17th to complete an improbable recovery that became necessary when he sent his tee shot into water protecting the green, leaving a cavernous opening for DeChambeau that he failed to convert.

DeChambeau declined for a third consecutive day to speak with print and digital media and local television following the playoff.

Apart from the entertaining theater unfolding atop the leader board, a handful of players out of realistic contention still had plenty of motivation to finish strong in their bid to qualify for the Tour Championship, the finale of the FedEx Cup playoffs in Atlanta.

The top 30 in the standings after the BMW Championship earned spots at East Lake, where a $15 million prize awaits the player who finishes first in the standings. Among the most notable players seeking to qualify was Sergio Garcia, the 2017 Masters champion who began the week in 44th position.

One spot in front of Garcia at the start of the BMW Championship was Alex Noren. One position behind was Erik van Rooyen. Each found himself inside the top 30 at points on the back nine, but Noren missed a putt for par at the 18th to fall to 33rd place.

Garcia and van Rooyen, meanwhile, secured berths to the Tour Championship with timely birdies. Van Rooyen birdied No. 18 after hitting his approach inside of three feet, sending the 31-year-old South African to his first Tour Championship in his first season on the PGA Tour.

A month ago, van Rooyen (21 under, fifth place) was outside the top 125 in the FedEx Cup standings. This week he finished tied for fourth at the BMW Championship at 21 under thanks to a final-round 65.

Garcia (20 under, tie for sixth) also capped his round with a flourish, nearly holing out from a greenside bunker. His tap-in from four inches left him 28th in the FedEx Cup standings, two spots ahead Patrick Reed, the final qualifier who missed this tournament while recovering from bilateral pneumonia.

“It’s very exciting,” Garcia said of reaching the Tour Championship. “Obviously after last week I put myself in a difficult spot but showed a lot of guts this week, played some great golf.”

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