Arguably nobody in Shriners Children’s Open history–save for 3-time champ Jim Furyk and two-time champ Kevin Na–has made playing in Vegas look as easy as 2021 FedEx Cup champion Patrick Cantlay. Entering the final round in 2022, Cantlay is tied with young superstar Tom Kim at -19. But the ease of playing the game he now displays is the result of perseverance and a lot of incremental progress that was conjured up when the chips were way down.–By Brian Hurlburt, Founder
Flashback to 2017 and Patrick Cantlay is somewhat off the radar and a player once destined for success. Unfortunately, injuries and tragedy has derailed the college superstar’s career to that point. But he won the 2017 Shriners Open title in a two-hole playoff over Whee Kim and Las Vegas’ Alex Cejka to claim his first PGA TOUR title.
He has been off and running ever since, piling up the wins and the accolades. Through the 2022 Shriners he had won eight times and collected that FedEx Cup title.
Flashback to 2018 and Cantlay is about to board a Maverick Helicopter along with some Shriners Hospitals patients and a golf writer to be delivered to TPC Summerin for the tournament’s media day.
In a quiet moment, he looked back on the victory and his career with some telling words that he continues to build upon to his very day.
“I think keeping perspective is important and accomplishing short term goals on a daily basis will lead to long term success, and that’s what I tried to do while I was dealing with a lot of physical and mental stuff,” Cantlay said. “It’s hard not to go to a dark place because I was going to have to take a year off after I had already taken two years off, and then my best friend died.
“It was full, complete depression. I am sure worse things could happen to me, but I can’t imagine feeling any worse than I did during that time.”
Since his 2017 win, Cantlay has finished T8 and runner-up twice in Las Vegas. Now he eyes another title.
“I think I drive the ball in the fairway a lot here, and I’m not afraid of hitting driver on most every hole, so I have a lot of wedges into greens, and I have a lot of looks,” said Cantlay after the 2022 third round about playing TPC Summerlin. “If I make a bunch of putts, I can shoot low scores.”
Cantlay is far from those dark placed he encountered along the way, but he always maintains that perspective earned in the most challenging times, especially during a tournament played to benefit and help children who are dealing with their own difficulties.
“Everyone goes through something, whether it be the disabilities the Shriners kids are dealing with or whatever,” Cantlay said in 2018 with words that still ring true today. “We all have our tough moments. Figuring out a way to get up every day and improve your situation is kind of what we are all doing each day. I feel for these kids, but they all seem to have wonderful outlooks and don’t let their challenges define them.”
Cantlay’s third round 60 was a career low and he looks to be ready for Vegas title number two.