There are few golfers more in form than Patrick Cantlay at the moment. The 29-year-old is fresh off the back of winning the BMW Championship last week — his third Tour victory of the year — and headed into the PGA Tour Championship with a 2-stroke lead this week. But while excitement builds around him, Cantlay is staying calm and focused on the job at hand. It’s an attitude that, in tandem with his steady hand on the green, has earned him the nickname “Patty Ice.”
“I think it’s great. I think it’s maybe trying to say something very large but speaks to a small little truth about me.”
“If the fans want to call me that, I think it’s great. I think it’s a term of endearment a little bit.”
Cantlay was able to show those trademark nerves of steel at the BMW Championship last weekend, where he made a number of clutch putts in a nail-biting, six-hole sudden-death playoff against Bryson DeChambeau. When asked how he manages to stay so calm under pressure, Cantlay says it’s a bit of nature and nurture.
“I have that disposition to begin with,” he adds. “And then I also come ideologically from a place of I’m going to do things that help, so if it doesn’t help, I’m going to try not to do it.”
“If I thought that getting amped up, getting high, getting low would help, then I would do it. I don’t think it helps me, so I’m not going to do it.”
“I try to get as focused as I can and I try to, especially when I’m putting, almost enter like a trance-like feeling and being the way I am, I think, facilitates that.”
But his unflappable exterior is not always an indication of what’s happening beneath the surface. While there may be ice running through his veins in the biggest moments on the course, there is always an undeniable excitement that he’s out there doing the thing he loves the most.
“Winning golf tournaments, believe it or not,” he says when asked what gets him excited.
“The opportunity to make putts like that when they matter, I think that’s one of the most intriguing and fun parts of golf.”
“And so being in that moment is everything I’ve prepared for and everything I’ve practiced for. If you don’t love that moment, you’re doing the wrong thing.”
“The hardest thing I’ve had to deal with”
Being able to play golf is not something Cantlay takes for granted anymore. The Californian has experienced some dark years in the past, including a serious back injury that forced him to miss around three years of competitive top-level golf. In 2016, he also witnessed his close friend and caddie Chris Roth be killed in a road accident which he says changed his life forever.
“It was obviously the hardest thing I’ve had to deal with in my life up to this point,” he adds. “The most traumatic and maybe life-altering.”
“Your perspective changes instantly. I remember feeling as though everything, everything that could have been the most important thing to me in the world, was instantly of zero importance.”
“I think I am probably a better person now because of it, but I don’t wish that on anybody. It’s not something you want to go through to gain that perspective.”
Cantlay is now back enjoying golf and working hard to fulfill his potential. While he tries to avoid setting major goals, he’s focused on ironing out the weaknesses in his game and this week’s PGA Championship is yet another opportunity for him to build on the successes of this year. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he’s started the tournament in fine form and retained his two-shot advantage after the first day on Thursday. The American hit a three-under-par 67 to stay ahead of Spain’s Jon Rahm.