FedEx Cup champ Cantlay takes even-keeled approach to Masters
Ten years on from his top amateur performance at the Masters, when Augusta National felt like "Disneyland," world number five Patrick Cantlay is hoping his usual methodical approach will see him contend for a first major title.
"I think trying to make it the same all the time is helpful," Cantlay said of treating the first major championship of the year, at the iconic Georgia course, as much as possible like any other tournament.
"I will definitely note that there is added importance this week, and I think everybody in the field knows that, and that's no different than the other majors and Ryder Cup," he said.
"You're definitely cognizant of making sure that all your ducks are in a row a little bit more than a regular week."
Cantlay, 30, says his first Masters back in 2012 seems "an extra long time ago."
His progression from an outstanding amateur career was interrupted by a back injury that saw him play sparingly between 2013 and 2016.
Then, in early 2016, his caddie and longtime friend Chris Roth was killed in a hit-and-run car accident, dealing Cantlay a heavy emotional blow.
"I was definitely a lot younger and thought everything just felt more wondrous, like Disneyland, coming here," Cantlay recalled.
Cantlay posted his best Masters finish, a tie for ninth, in 2019.
He missed the cut last year, but went on to complete a stellar 2021 campaign that featured four US PGA Tour titles -- including an epic playoff win over Bryson DeChambeau at the BMW Championship and a victory in the Tour Championship to scoop the FedEx Cup crown and earn Player of the Year honors.
He has four top-10 finishes in 2022, including a playoff loss to top-ranked Scottie Scheffler at the Phoenix Open.
Although he has also had a scattering of missed cuts and so-so performances, Cantlay said his progress last year only adds to his confidence that he can bag a first major title, without adding extra pressure to tick that box on his resume.
"I don't think past successes make it more difficult in the future," Cantlay said. "I think it makes it easier. I think being able to draw on those past experiences and being able to perform on big stages only bodes well for big stages in the future.
"So I try to remind myself of the good things I've done, and when I do get in those moments, keep bringing up those past experiences of what it felt like.
"I think having a cache of experiences like that only helps you going forward."