His new nickname may be “Patty Ice,” but Patrick Cantlay‘s form is red hot. The 29-year-old star continued his impressive play with a third-round 67 and will enter Sunday’s finale at the famed East Lake Golf Club with a two shot advantage.
Cantlay’s round of 67 was highlighted by four birdies in a five-hole stretch at the turn (Nos. 6, 7, 9 and 10) to move four clear of playing partner Jon Rahm. The leader was somewhat shaky down the stretch, though, mixing three bogeys with two birdies, including a final-hole gain to settle on 20-under par.
“I thought it was big for momentum,” said Cantlay, when asked about the final hole birdie. “It was a nice putt to make, especially being out of position on that hole.
“And I’ll take that momentum into tomorrow. I thought I rolled the ball on the greens just as good as the last couple days, and my speed was good, and a few putts went in today which was nice.
“So I feel like I’m in a good spot going into tomorrow, and that putt on 18 put the momentum in the right direction.”
Rahm, who entered Saturday’s round just one off the pace, now finds himself down two after a 2-under 68 which included three birdies against one bogey to reach 18 under.
“Not my best,” said Rahm, when asked to characterize his round. “Great off the tee, I must say. Man, hitting it really good off the tee. Just wasn’t as sharp as I wanted to be with my irons.
“It was one of those days where there was a lot of in-between numbers, right. It was just I don’t think it happened once today, a perfect stock number, no doubt about it.
“There was a lot of three-quarters and finessing around, and certain holes I just played a little bit more conservative, and didn’t give myself the best chances to make putts, right.
“I felt like I had a lot of putts between 20 and 30 feet today and with the hole locations we had, it’s not like it was the easiest putts, right.
“But I hung in there, gave myself a couple chances down the stretch. Too bad I couldn’t make one of the putts, but still a good round within what it is, right. This golf course is not easy.
“So with what I had, I posted a good score and I’m in a good spot for tomorrow.”
Cantlay, who will be paired with Rahm in Sunday’s finale, is looking forward to being paired with the world No. 1 for the third straight day.
“We’ve played a lot of golf together the last two or three years, and considering he’s the No. 1 player in the world, I think that’s a good thing for me,” said Cantlay.
“I think we have both seen each other play really good golf, and hopefully we both play well tomorrow.”
Three shots further back was Justin Thomas, who posted a low-round 65, despite a three-putt bogey on the par-5 18th which knocked him back to 15 under.
“I can’t do anything about what they are doing, and for my sake,” said Thomas. “They have unfortunately played some really good golf and in this format, starting ahead and them playing good golf, it’s tough to catch.
“I gained some shots on the leaders today, and that’s what’s most important. I think I was four back going into Sunday at THE PLAYERS, or maybe a little bit closer, I’m not sure. But I know I’ve won from four behind before, so hopefully Pat will par 18 for me and not do anything crazy.”
2021 TOUR Championship
Pos-Player (Rd 3)
1. Patrick Cantlay -20 (-3)
2. Jon Rahm -18 (-2)
3. Justin Thomas -15 (-5)
4. Kevin Na -13 (-4)
5. Abraham Ancer -10 (-5)
5. Billy Horschel -10 (-3)
7. Viktor Hovland -9 (E)
7. Bryson DeChambeau -9 (+2)
9. Xander Schauffele -8 (-3)
9. Dustin Johnson -8 (-2)
9. Jordan Spieth -8 (E)
Top-5 Gross Scores
Pos-Player (Rd 3)
1. Jon Rahm -12 (-2)
2. Justin Thomas -11 (-5)
2. Kevin Na -11 (-4)
4. Patrick Cantlay -10 (-3)
4. Billy Horschel -10 (-3)