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Patrick Cantlay loses in playoff as Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood suffer another close call

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Patrick Cantlay loses in playoff as Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood suffer another close call

Playoffs specialist Patrick Cantlay falls in duel, while Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood come up short once again.

    Written by Jimmy Reinman

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The cruel nature of golf was on full display again Sunday in Memphis as three of the game’s biggest names watched Lucas Glover earn his second-straight PGA TOUR win.

    Patrick Cantlay, Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy all had a shot at claiming the first event of the FedExCup Playoffs before the hottest man in golf proved to be too much.

    For Cantlay, his legacy as one of the postseason’s most dominant forces added another chapter on Sunday.

    Cantlay entered Sunday at 9-under par among a large contingent of players at T6, five shots behind 54-hole leader Glover. Cantlay, playing alongside McIlroy, posted three birdies on the front, three birdies on back. His bogey-free round of 64 was the lowest round of the day from any player.

    It was his birdie on 15 that tied him for the lead, and another on 16 that put him in front by one after Glover stumbled on the 14th hole. Cantlay would not relinquish that lead until the final hole of the day, where his tee shot on 18 in the first playoff hole found the water.

    Lucas Glover defeats Patrick Cantlay in playoff to win FedEx St. Jude

    Despite the result, the lore of “Patty Ice” showing up in the Playoffs is now written in stone. In his last six FedExCup Playoffs events, he has won three of them and lost one in a playoff. He now heads to the BMW Championship, where he’s the two-time defending champion.

    “I'm obviously playing really well, and next week is a golf course that I enjoy, so looking forward to it,” Cantlay said after his round.

    Left just outside the playoff at TPC Southwind and finding themselves in a familiar spot were Fleetwood and McIlroy. Both ended their days tied with each other for third, one shot out of the playoff at 14-under.

    In the case of Fleetwood, this marks the fifth top-10 finish in his last six starts, with him owning at least a share of the lead at some point in four of those.

    Today, it was the putter that failed Fleetwood. Despite a 39-foot make, three missed chances on the front nine from 8 feet, 7 feet and 6 feet will be the ones that stick out. Fleetwood was second in the field this week in Strokes Gained: Putting at +5.57 strokes; on Sunday he was -0.32 strokes against the field.

    “Putts on two, three and six made the difference,” confirmed Fleetwood. “I hit a good putt on two and then probably two sort of iffy putts, and that was it.”

    Close call after close call can wear on the soul, but Fleetwood maintains that he would rather be in the hunt than out of it.

    “It's better than being the other way,” he said. “It's better than being nowhere near. Of course, it's frustrating, but I think I have to look at it in a positive way, be proud of the golf I'm playing and the work that we're doing. I haven't done loads wrong, and I'm feeling very, very comfortable. It's just trusting that it will happen and keep playing my game.”

    Tommy Fleetwood drains a 39-foot birdie putt at FedEx St. Jude

    Fleetwood is still in pursuit of his first PGA TOUR win, and at No. 10 in the FedExCup standings, he’ll have at least two more chances this season.

    In the same boat is European Ryder Cup teammate McIlroy. The Northern Irishman shot a bogey-free 65 on Sunday, but a costly five on the par-5 16th carried the weight of a square on the scorecard.

    A birdie on 18 brought McIlroy to within one, but at that point it was simply too late.

    Rory McIlroy finishes strong with birdie at FedEx St. Jude

    “It was nice to feel like I had a chance,” McIlroy said. “In the end, I knew with how Patrick was playing. He was playing so good and so solid and hitting fairways and hitting greens and giving himself chances all the time. I obviously ended up one shy of him, and it looks like I'll probably end up one shy out of the playoff.”

    In a day where it felt like McIlroy shot 5-under with his B+ game, it was his putter that came alive and kept him within striking distance. McIlroy holed 105 feet of putts on Sunday and gained 1.99 strokes over the field on the greens.

    “Overall, it was my best round of the week and a solid performance,” he added. “Nothing but confidence going into Chicago next week.”

    The defending FedExCup champion remains third overall in the standings and will try to hold off Glover from continuing his renaissance next week at the BMW Championship.

    Jimmy Reinman is a member of the PGA TOUR's digital content team. A native of Florida’s Space Coast, he is passionate about golf’s most emboldened characters and bizarre lore. He dreams of one day making center-face contact with a long iron.

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