Winner: Patrick Cantlay
What do you say to a legend after giving his masterpiece golf course a good thumping and picking off his coveted tournament? Well, Patrick Cantlay came from four strokes behind in the final round and plucked the prestigious Memorial Tournament off Adam Scott’s fingertips by virtue of a rousing eight-under 64. And as Cantlay was leaving the last green, he happened to pass by Jack Nicklaus, course and tournament creator. “I finished it,” Cantlay said. And Nicklaus grinned and nodded his approval.
Earlier in the week, Nicklaus told Cantlay he had to learn how to finish. And would anyone know better? Said Nicklaus: have fun, relax, enjoy the experience. So Cantlay, after trailing all the way on his 68-69-68, had great fun with a flawless 64, the lowest final round by a winner in the 44 years of the tournament. Cantlay had learned well. He was leading the 2018 Memorial by two going into the final nine but stalled out. No more birdies. This time he kept rolling, and his longest par putt was the eight-footer at the last for a 19-under 269 and a two-stroke win. He remembered Nicklaus’s advice: Have fun.
“I definitely said that to myself down the stretch today,” Cantlay said. “It put me a little more at ease…” The Memorial was looking like a rebirth for German’s Martin Kaymer, the former young sensation who went cold after winning the 2010 PGA Championship and the 2014 Players Championship and U.S. Open. He led by two going into the last, but his bid sputtered with bogeys at 12, 13 and 18. He shot 72 and finished third. “You really can’t make any mistakes coming down the stretch,” Kaymer said. “But all credit to Patrick.” Scott, who
surged from six behind in the first round, still had a chance to head off Cantlay. But after three straight birdies he cooled and parred the 17th and 18th for a 68, and finished second by two. “I played really good golf,” Scott
said. “It just wasn’t good enough.”
It was Cantlay’s time. Circumstances had sidetracked him. A can’t-miss coming out of college, he sat out over two years with a back problem, then scored his only win late in 2017 in the Shriners Hospital for Children Open. He started the Memorial’s final round four off the lead and streaked to five birdies on the front nine. He briefly caught Kaymer, the leader, with a three-wood second and a two-putt birdie from 10 feet at No. 11. Kaymer tied him with a birdie of his own there. Then as Kaymer sagged to the three bogeys coming in, Cantlay birdied the 14th from 18 feet and the par-five 15th on a long two-putt for his record 64. Then came the “I finished it” to Nicklaus. “Being able to win on this golf course, in front of Jack, making that putt on the last hole,” said Cantlay, “I can’t tell you how good it feels.”