Coming off a breakout season in 2018-2019, Titleist Brand Ambassador Patrick Cantlay, the former collegiate stand-out and top-ranked amateur player in the world, has truly cemented his comeback to golf from a debilitating back injury that had kept him off the course for the better part of four years.
Patrick's 2018-2019 PGA TOUR campaign was a study in consistency, as he recorded a career-high nine top-10 finishes and made 18 of 21 cuts. He finished with the second lowest scoring average on Tour (69.306), advanced to the TOUR Championship (finishing 21st in the FedExCup standings) and broke the top-10 in the Official World Golf Rankings for the first time, ending the season at #7.
With three top 10 finishes already this season, Cantlay looks to build on his momentum. So to learn more about what's contributed to his success, we sat down with the 28-year-old to get the details.
Seven Questions with Patrick Cantlay
TT: After three months without an event, how much did you practice or play prior to the re-start of the season?
PC: I took some initial time off and used that time as an “off season” of sorts to rest and get ready to play again. Once the schedule was finalized, I gave myself some time to practice and get into play mode before my first tournament. I am very excited to be competing again on a more regular basis.
TT: You are playing the same golf course as last week, which has never been done before. Does that change your preparation going into the Memorial?
PC: It was great to play Muirfield Village last week. In regards to preparation, it is a new situation for us all. Last week was more of an adjustment with hole locations and such, and this week will feel a little more of a return to normal in my opinion, and I am working to use it to my advantage. It’s no secret that I love the course and enjoy playing it every year, so to get to play it two weeks in a row is great.
TT: You closed with a 65 and finished in the top 10 last week. What are your expectations as far as course setup at The Memorial vs. the Workday event?
PC: I am looking forward to the course setup this week for The Memorial. I am expecting the greens to roll quicker and the rough to be longer. It will be a great test and I think despite it being the same course, the two events will feel very different. This week at Memorial will feel more like what I am used to at Muirfield.
TT: Last year you closed with a 64 to win the Memorial by two shots over Adam Scott. What stands out most about that final round?
PC: Last year was really memorable, and being able to shoot 64 in the final round to win was a fun way to get it done. I had been playing well leading up to the event, and what stands out the most was just being able to put it all together throughout the week and capitalize on the opportunity to win on Sunday.
TT: You have now won a PGA TOUR event each of the past two years. How different is it coming in as defending champion versus a regular week?
PC: Being the defending champion is a great feeling but I don’t view it as too much different. There is certainly an added focus on me from the outside because I won the event last year but I am working to focus solely on this week and prepping as I would any other week on Tour to give myself another opportunity to win.
TT: With the success you’ve had at Muirfield Village, what is it about that course that suits your game?
PC: Muirfield Village really suits my eye well off the tee, it places an importance on driving it in the fairway. The greens have a lot of slope and the rough is penal so it makes you really pay attention on your approach shots to where you leave your ball. I also love fast, sloped greens and this course has quite a few of those.
TT: You’ve played Titleist golf balls and equipment throughout your career. When did you start playing it and what makes you so loyal to the brand?
PC: I’ve played Titleist equipment throughout my bag since I was a young kid. The consistency in both feel and performance year after year makes it a smooth transition into the newest equipment without having to endure too many changes. Staying loyal to the brand has been easy for me because they produce such high quality products and always help me find the right club for my game.
What's in Patrick Cantlay's Titleist Golf Bag
Pro V1x golf ball, TS3 (10.5°) driver w/Mitsubishi Diamana BF60 TX, 915F (15.0°) fairway metal w/Diamana ZF70 TX, 816H2 (21.0°) hybrid w/Fujikura Atmos 8 Blue X, 718 AP2 (4-9) w/TT Dynamic Gold 120 X100, Vokey Design SM7 pitching (46), gap (54.10S), sand (56.08M) and SM8 lob (61°) wedges w/TT Dynamic Gold S300, Scotty Cameron GSS putter
“I have only played three models since my freshmen year of college,” Cantlay said. “I played the 2011 Pro V1x and then I played 15X and now I play 19X. And I think what I can say is, whenever I've had any experience hitting other golf balls, which isn't a lot, the Pro V1x always feels like it goes farther and has a better sound and feel to it than anything else. A lot of the other golf balls don't have that feel - they're either really soft like a marshmallow or too clicky, almost like a rock. Titleist, no matter what iteration of the golf ball it is, it feels similar, consistent, and you can always trust that it's going to have that correct sound and correct ball flight.”
Asked what prompted his switch last season to the 19X, Cantlay said he was it came about while practicing with Justin Thomas. “I was struggling just a little bit into the wind with my 15X and I noticed that his golf ball, a regular V, went through the wind a little better and held it's trajectory. It didn't balloon up in the air and the wind. So I asked Fordie what he thought. We tested it but I seemed to lose a little distance. And I didn't necessarily like how much lower it was. So, that's when we started talking about moving potentially into the 19X. I tried it and it felt almost identical to the 15X. And yet it brought my spin down just a little bit. Not a huge amount but still enough where I noticed a positive change.”
“It was basically a seamless transition,” Cantlay added. “I hardly noticed any change in numbers, change in distance one way or the other. But it felt like my golf ball had a little better control, especially in windy conditions. I think controlling your golf ball in any element is the biggest thing for me. So if I hit a shot, and it feels like 152 and there's 10 miles an hour breeze into me and then I think that's going to affect it, I don't know, six yards or whatever, I want to know that it's going to go the 146 and not have it do anything weird. Especially if I have maybe just a slight mishit because I think a lot of golf balls do really well if you strike right out of the middle of the face and you get the right launch and everything. But the Titleist golf ball, even on a little mishit, your number doesn't get too much different. Especially when that's magnified in a breeze or a rain or a weird condition.”
Consistency is a hallmark of Patrick's game, as evidenced by his top 10 rankings in approaches to the green from 175-200 yards (#2), approaches to the green from 150-175 yards (#6), scrambling [overall] (#3), scrambling from less than 30 yards (#1), shots gained: around-the-green (#6), and putting average (#10) during the 2019 PGA Tour season.
Patrick credits part of this consistency on the course to the trust he has in his Titleist clubs and the team behind them. “I’ve been with Titleist for a long time — since high school. I feel really comfortable with [the clubs]. That's kind of a theme for me. It puts me at ease just knowing that I can appreciate that they didn’t rush anything and they’ve done their due diligence on building the best possible clubs.”
“Whenever I talk to Aaron [Dill] or Bob [Vokey] they’re very good at understanding what I mean when I describe a certain feel and then not only hearing what I’m saying but translating it into helping me get a wedge I’m looking for.
Patrick's favorite club in his bag is his old trusty. “I’ve had [my putter] a long time (about 8 years) and it’s definitely my favorite. It’s a Scotty Cameron Newport 2. I’ve been using that model for a long time so I feel really comfortable with it and I don’t see it changing.”