To say that Patrick Cantlay has been through some difficult times in his professional career is quite the understatement. Indeed, the 29-year-old Californian came close to giving up the sport and returning to college following a career-threatening back injury.
Turning professional in mid-2012 as the world’s top-ranked amateur after two superb collegiate seasons with UCLA, Cantlay seemed set for a successful professional career. He earned his PGA Tour card for 2014 via an 11th place finish on on the 2013 Web.com Tour Order of Merit, but had picked up a back injury while warming up during a tournament in May. Later diagnosed as an L5 stress fracture, the injury saw him only playing only five PGA Tour events in 2014 and going through 2015 and 2016 without a single tournament.
To make things worse, in early 2016 Cantlay’s caddie and high school buddy Chris Roth was killed in a hit-and-run accident while the two of them were out together.
But Cantlay’s quite confidence and steely determination – plus a swing change to protect his back – saw him come back strongly in 2017, qualifying for the Tour Championship and winning the first of his six PGA Tour titles that November at The Shriners. Fast forward to present time and he’s the FedExCup champion, having won four titles this year including the final two in the BMW Championship and Tour Championship.
“I think the biggest thing is it’s given me great perspective. I think for a long time, everything just went great. Growing up, I felt like I got better and better in golf and life got better and better, and then it got as bad as it could have been. I felt as low as it could have been for a little while,” said Cantlay after his one-shot win over John Rahm in the 2021 season-ender at East Lake.
“Coming out on the other side of that, I feel like I am a better person having gone through those dark days. But it gives me great perspective and it makes me very grateful to be in the position I’m in today, because it wasn’t always a sure thing. I was very close to going back to school and putting golf behind me.”
The decision to stick to golf has certainly paid off as Cantlay pocketed a cool US$15 million for winning the FedExCup. But the man they recently started calling ‘Patty Ice’ for his cool on-course demeanour is not concerned about the money.
“The money is not what drives me to play this game. Winning golf tournaments, playing golf under pressure, and hitting quality golf shots under the gun, I mean, that’s why I practice and that’s why I practiced my whole life. That’s the best feeling in the world for me, winning golf tournaments,” said Cantlay.
Photos courtesy of HUGO BOSS. Patrick Cantlay is a BOSS ambassador.
Article Originally Appeared on ParGolf