Record start puts Cantlay in interesting situation

June 24, 2011
Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM

CROMWELL, Conn. -- What would you do if you were asked to forfeit what are supposed to be the best years of your life for a shot at fame and fortune?


Never mind, dumb question.

Patrick Cantlay has a million reasons to turn pro. Actually 1.08 million, even if he can't collect the winner's check at the Travelers Championship.

Yet the 19-year-old who just helped his UCLA team win four tournaments, was the Jack Nicklaus award recipient as the National Player of the Year and the low amateur at the U.S. Open, where he tied for 21st, says he wants to get his degree first.

"I'm not thinking about [turning pro] right now," said Cantlay, who not only leads the Travelers Championship at 13-under but shot a course-record 10-under 60 in the second round in the process. "I'm going to try and take care of business this week and then see what's going on."

Through his first 36 holes Cantlay has certainly done that.

Sure they were playing lift, clean and place at TPC River Highlands after the course was drenched with heavy rain on Wednesday and Thursday. And the greens were as soft as a sponge. But Cantlay's 60 is still the best score of the week by two shots.

Cantlay had a realistic shot at 59 but admitted to looking at the leaderboard late in the round. He then made two straight pars -- before closing with birdies on the 17th and 18th holes.

Kids. They can never focus can they?

Of course on 18 Cantlay nearly holed out for eagle, hitting his approach shot to just over 2 feet.

"I get the conditions were good and he got on a run and sometimes playing 36 holes is an advantage, but holy (expletive)," said Paul Goydos, who works with the same coach, Jamie Mulligan, that Cantlay does when he's back home in So Cal.

Maybe it's the water there.

Goydos is in the record books with a 59 of his own. Cantlay had a chance to join him. Of course he still has an opportunity to join Phil Mickelson, who was the last amateur to win on TOUR.

Billy Horschel was one of the players in Cantlay's group Friday and had a front row seat.

"He hits it straight, makes a ton of putts and has no weakness right now from what I could tell," Horschel said. "His ball was at the flag the whole day."

Meh. Cantlay, meanwhile, more or less shrugged it off.

Never mind the fact that he became just the 24th player in TOUR history to record a round of 60 -- or that he became the first amateur to do it.

Cantlay is So Cal cool, as Horschel puts it. Laid back, mellow, relaxed.

The same could be said about how he played Friday when he made 11 birdies, two eagles (both on the par-5 13th) and two bogeys over 36 holes.

"I tried to have no expectations, just so I didn't limit myself," Cantlay said.

Friday actually wasn't the first time Cantlay had shot 60 -- he did it a few months ago at his home course, Virginia Country Club in Long Beach, Calif. He also took some money off John Mallinger in a friendly match that also included another Southern Californian, John Merrick.

"If you'd have told me he'd have a four-shot lead halfway through his second PGA TOUR event [I would have been surprised]," Merrick said. "But [how he's playing] doesn't surprise because I've seen him play this well.

"He's legit. He's going to be fun to watch on the weekend."

Now the only question is if he'll be able to resist the temptation of turning pro to play on the weekend more often.

Goydos, for one, is in no hurry to see him on a regular basis.

"I feel bad for the kids in college," Goydos said. "He said he's going to stay four years? In four years I'll be 51. That sounds like a good deal for me. I think he should get his graduate degree."