Down the stretch of the 2020-21 PGA Tour season during the FedEx Cup playoffs, Patrick Cantlay’s focus and concentration were on full display as he outlasted Bryson DeChambeau in a six-hole playoff to win the BMW Championship then fended off Jon Rahm a week later to capture the Tour Championship, FedEx Cup and $15 million.
While “Patty Ice” seemed unflappable when the lights shined their brightest, he coolly thrived off the hoopla, excitement and support from the galleries to cap off the best season of his career, which also included wins at the Zozo Championship in October and the Memorial in June.
The recently named PGA Tour Player of the Year is anticipating another raucous setting as he makes his debut at the Ryder Cup from September 24-26 at Whistling Straits Golf Course in Wisconsin.
“When I was at Caves Valley (for the BMW Championship), I felt like the fans were really in my corner and pulling for me to get it done,” Cantlay said. “It was late in the day and the fans were wild there. I’m expecting a much more amped up version of that for the Ryder Cup. I think it will be really exciting and will really be a positive to have the fans—it will totally be one-sided so they’ll all be pulling for us.
“Playing in that environment, the idea of that’s really exciting so I’m looking forward to getting out there and experiencing it.”
Cantlay, 29, is one of six rookies on the U.S. Team—along with Collin Morikawa (24), Scottie Scheffler (25), Xander Schauffele (27), Daniel Berger (28) and Harris English (32)—hoping to help the Americans regain the Ryder Cup after losing 17½ points to 10½ in 2018 at Le Golf National in France; this year’s 43rd edition of the biennial team event was postponed from 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite Team USA’s average age of 28.9 years old, the Americans boast eight of the top-10 players in the world and six major champions with a combined 12 starts in the biennial matches. The average age of the European team is 34.5 years old, with a combined 38 starts.
“We may be rookies but we’re not short on experience and we’re not short on accolades,” Cantlay said. “Collin having won a couple of majors (2020 PGA Championship and 2021 Open Championship) and being a Ryder Cup rookie is almost unheard of. I think the guys are ready and I think we’re going to come together and really have a good week. I think everyone’s excited and we’ll be rested and ready to go.”
Even though half a dozen of Team USA’s members are making their Ryder Cup debut, that doesn’t mean they’re short on team golf experience with Cantlay, Berger and Schauffele having previous Presidents Cup experience.
At the 2019 Presidents Cup in Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia, Cantlay and Schauffele both went 3-2, winning twice in foursomes and their respective singles, but losing both fourball matches, while Berger played on the victorious 2017 U.S. team, going 2-1-0, winning in singles and foursomes.
Cantlay believes the injection of fresh faces on Team USA to complement the experience of Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Tony Finau, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and DeChambeau can prove to be the right combination to topple the Europeans, who have won four of the last five Ryder Cup events and nine of the past 12.
“Half the team’s rookies, so we’re bringing in a bunch of new guys who haven’t experienced it before and I think that could be a positive because we haven’t had the greatest record in the last few years,” he said, citing Team USA’s two victories since 2002. “I think getting everyone to come together and be on the same page and really embrace the moment of it, it should be that much easier with all of the fans pulling for us.”