‘Drive for show and putt for dough’. The saying has been around forever, but recently it’s become, ‘drive for dough and putt for show’. Pros are gaining a huge advantage from how far they hit the ball off the tee, and it’s reflected in the leading money earners on tour. Until last week’s climax of the BMW Championship that is, where two of the game’s premier players in Bryson DeChambeau (who leads the tour in driving distance) and Patrick Cantlay went toe to toe on the final day in scintillating fashion. Six extra holes were required after both tied at 27 under par (yes 27 UNDER PAR!!) after 72 holes.
Time and again Cantlay had ‘must make’ putts. Time and again he made them. A clutch nine-footer for par on the 16th hole in regulation play helped him stay within one stroke of DeChambeau. Then, on the par three 17th, Cantlay hit his tee shot in the water on 17 and the tournament looked over. Bryson eagerly jogged off the tee knowing the trophy was basically his. However, a poor chip and missed putt led to bogey. Meanwhile, after taking a penalty drop and wedging his third to eight feet, Cantlay calmly rolled it in for bogey. Still game on. Both players found the 18th green in regulation, but it was advantage Bryson as Cantlay had 21 feet left to keep the tournament alive. He buried it dead centre then watched as DeChambeau pulled his attempt from 12 feet. On to extra holes.
Replaying the 18th Cantlay short-sided himself left of the green and made a phenomenal up and down, holing from seven feet for par, after Bryson missed his birdie attempt for the win. On the second playoff hole Cantlay again made a par putt, this time from six feet. Bryson had five and a half feet for the victory again. Denied. After halving the next three holes with two pars and a birdie each, Cantlay put the final dagger in by holing an 18-footer for birdie, while Bryson missed from nine feet to keep it going.
He consistently outdrove Cantlay by over 40 yards all day with the longest club in the bag, but ultimately, it was the shortest club that did all the damage. Statistically speaking, Cantlay had the greatest putting display on record for the week since the PGA Tour started measuring ‘strokes gained’ on the greens in 2011. With so much money on the line every week, it was nice once again to see the putter earn the dough.