Cantlay leads FedEx Cup rival Rahm at halfway stage of Tour Championship

By Sports Desk September 03, 2021

Patrick Cantlay maintained his Tour Championship lead ahead of Jon Rahm after making birdie at his final two holes in the second round of the PGA Tour's season-ending FedEx Cup finale.

Cantlay carded a four-under-par 66 to be one stroke clear of world number one Rahm at the halfway stage of the final FedEx Cup play-off event on Friday.

FedEx Cup leader Cantlay arrived at East Lake with a two-shot cushion at 10 under – as part of the new format, having claimed a thrilling six-hole play-off victory at the expense of Bryson DeChambeau last week.

Cantlay – the only winner of three PGA Tour titles this season – preserved that advantage following Thursday's opening round and the American golfer managed to stay atop the leaderboard at 17 under as Rahm continued his charge in Atlanta, Georgia.

While Cantlay produced a flawless performance heading into the weekend, FedEx Cup hopeful Rahm – fourth in the standings prior to this week's lucrative tournament – kept the pressure on with back-to-back 65s.

After a bogey-free front nine which featured one birdie, Rahm lit up the back nine with five birdies, including three in a row to close out the day.

There is distance between the top two and the rest of the 30-man field, with 2020 U.S. Open champion DeChambeau 11 under through 36 holes following his three-under-par 67.

Third in the standings and three strokes behind at the start of the Tour Championship, DeChambeau mixed five birdies with two bogeys to be six shots off the pace, one stroke better off than 2017 FedEx Cup champion Justin Thomas (67).

The FedEx Cup winner stands to collect $15million.

Tony Finau (67), Kevin Na (67), Viktor Hovland (68), Cameron Smith (68) and Harris English (69) are nine under, while two-time FedEx Cup and Tour Championship winner Rory McIlroy is a shot further back after shooting a 66.

McIlroy battled to turn things around on day two – the four-time major champion reeling off three consecutive birdies to close out the round after a red-hot back nine, which included six birdies in total.

"I thought the pins today were pretty tricky because all of them were, even if you hit the ball close – I hit a few wedge shots to like four, five feet – and you still had big breaking putts or if you're on the wrong side of the hole, it's still tricky," McIlroy said after recording two bogeys and a birdie from his first nine holes.

"But to be two over through four and play the last 14 in six under was a really good effort to at least just keep myself in the tournament."

Jordan Spieth (67) also reached eight under as the former world number one revealed he and his wife Annie are expecting their first child in November.

"It's something you can't hide now that we are close," Spieth said. "It's been a really great year. I've been blessed on a lot of fronts. … So it should be an exciting fall."

Reigning FedEx Cup and Tour Championship winner Dustin Johnson, meanwhile, posted a second-round 69 to be six under.

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    Cantlay, who was last season's PFA Tour Player of the Year, birdied five of his first seven holes along with an eagle on the par-five sixth in good conditions.

    The 29-year-old American birdied the 11th, 12th and 13th holes before pars to round out a strong start.

    Hodges, who played the back nine first, had a similar run on his event debut although he landed an eagle on the par-five fifth hole as part of a strong finish.

    “I got off to a roll at the start and kind of made a bunch of putts and then I kind of lagged on the way coming in,” Cantlay said.

    “I was happy with everything. I thought I did everything well and it’s a golf course I really like. It’s in perfect shape and so, if you get the ball rolling on line, it should go in.”

    Both Cantlay and Hodges started on the La Quinta course but Nicklaus Tournament Course on Friday and the adjacent Stadium Course on the weekend.

    Cameron Young and KH Lee are tied for second after carding eight-under rounds of 64, with the Korean missing out on a share of the lead due to two bogeys.

    Young shot five-under on his back nine to move up the leaderboard, highlighted by an eagle on the 13th hole.

    Joseph Bramlett, Sam Ryder, Brandt Snedeker, Danny Lee, Tom Hoge, Seamus Power, Wyndham Clark and Greyson Sigg were all seven under.

    World number one Jon Rahm had a steady round on La Quinta with four birdies on his back nine to finish his round with a six-under-66.

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    Jamieson got the first DP World Tour event of the year under way with a brilliant nine-under 63 at the Yas Links course on Thursday.

    The Scot was bogey-free through his opening round, hitting the turn in 32 and making another five birdies on the back nine to set the clubhouse target at the DP World Tour's newest venue.

    Jamieson started with a birdie and never looked back, fittingly also finishing his excellent round with another gain.

    He said in an interview with the DP World Tour: "Eight weeks off from tournament golf, you're always a little bit on edge at the start of the day, but a birdie at the first settled any edge there was and I was just really solid all day.

    "One tee shot wasn't very good, but I kind of got lucky and recovered well."

    Hovland signed for an eight-under 64 in the opening Rolex Series event of the season, with a bogey five at the 12th the only blemish on the world number seven's card.

    The Norwegian had gone out in 31 and finished with a flourish, making three birdies in his final four holes.

    World number two Collin Morikawa, winner of the Race to Dubai last year, has work to do following a one-over 73, with Rory McIlroy also having ground to make up at level par.

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    It is seven years since McIlroy won the last of his four major titles and he was reduced to tears when frankly stating he "should have done more" to try and prevent Europe from slumping to a record defeat to the United States in the Ryder Cup last September.

    McIlroy went on to end 2021 with a flourish, winning the CJ Cup and finishing in a share of sixth in the DP World Tour Championship after holding the lead heading into the final round.

    The 32-year-old, who will start his season at the Abu Dhabi Championship this weekend, has outlined his intention to adopt an approach that worked so well for the legendary Woods over the years.

    "There are certainly aspects of what he did so well in the past that I would obviously love to put into my game," said the Northern Irishman.

    McIlroy is not looking to try match Bryson DeChambeau in the driving department, though.

    He added: "No, I don't need to. The goal of hitting more fairways, it maybe means throttling back and hitting three-wood a little more often or hitting clubs that are maybe not as aggressive off tees and just putting yourself in the fairway.

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    "I used to sit down on the flight here and write down I want to win five times, I want to win a major, I want to win The Race to Dubai, I want to win the FedExCup, I'd love to win six times in a season as I've won five in the past, I want to do this or that," he said.

    "And all those things are great goals and they are things to try to work towards. But I think the biggest thing for guys at the level that we're at is I want to hit over 60 per cent of my fairways.

    "I want my proximity [to the hole] inside 150 yards to be a certain number. I want my strokes-gained putting to be a certain number. I can't control if I win five or six times a year.

    "There's so many other variables in there. I'd rather set goals that are objective and measurable that I'm in control of.

    "I can certainly control if I hit 60 per cent of the fairways and I'd love to get my iron play back to where it was a few years ago. I can control if my stats are better than they were the year before."

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