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Unlikely friendship fuels Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele in wire-to-wire Zurich Classic title

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    Written by Ben Everill @BEverillPGATOUR

    Cantlay & Schauffele earn wire-to-wire victory at Zurich Classic

    NEW ORLEANS – Golf is predominantly an individual sport. An athletic pursuit that brings with it sacrifice in the form of hours of isolation in one’s formative years, searching to find the extra few percent that represents the difference between a decent player and someone who can earn a living from it.

    Most players, perhaps without fully realizing it, form a bubble where only a handful of friends exist during the teenage years. Close friendships might be generated through the school golf team, but if personalities don’t click there either, it can be a lonely pursuit. The PGA TOUR is full of friend groups and great relationships, to be sure. But when push comes to shove, players must look across the tee box with blinders on. That friend, while inside the ropes, is the foe. Ruthlessness is a prerequisite to success. It is why Tiger Woods was so dominant, particularly in his early years. There are times in the elite golf calendar, though, where teamwork is important. Where players exit the bubble and find the fresh air, feelings and friendships. The Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup are the two biggest on the professional stage. And then there is the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. The tournament turned to a two-man team format in 2017, and the move has provided something fresh. Something fun. It allows players to share in something bigger than themselves. Cameron Smith won in 2017 with Jonas Blixt, the housemate of his caddie Sam Pinfold and regular social outing partner in Jacksonville. He won again in 2021 with fellow Australian Marc Leishman; the two have a bond so close that the children of Leishman and caddie Matty Kelly call him “Uncle Cam.” The latest duo to thrive in the Big Easy: FedExCup champion Patrick Cantlay and Olympic gold medalist Xander Schauffele. On Sunday, they capped off a record-setting performance, going wire-to-wire to win at TPC Louisiana. Their 29-under total included an opening 59 in Four-ball play and looked set to be a procession when a seventh-hole eagle reset a five-shot lead on Sunday.