Can "Paddy Ice" heat up at US Open?

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M. James Ward assesses the underachievement to date of Patrick Cantlay in the major championships.
Posted on
June 14, 2024
M. James Ward in ,
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

PINEHURST, NC. After Xander Schauffele captured the PGA Championship for his first major title, the onus now falls on the shoulders of his long-time playing partner Patrick Cantlay to do likewise.

Cantlay showed much in his opening round at Pinehurst No.2. His play showcased his putting prowess and he kept the round going in smooth fashion by scoring a five-under-par 65 and a tie for the lead with Rory McIlroy.

The 32-year-old has had a solid professional career but one specific thing is missing — a major championship title.

Amazingly, in 27 major appearances as a professional — Patrick has had only four top ten finishes and only one of those was a finish in the top five — a T3 at the 2019 PGA Championship.

There's a word for such non-production — underachiever.

As a comparison to Schauffele – even before his win at the PGA Championship — Xander had played in an equal number of majors with 27 — but recorded twelve top-ten finishes and six top-five placements.

Cantlay has fallen to 9th in the world golf rankings after ending 2023 in the 5th slot. The former UCLA college star has a total of eight PGA Tour wins - however, the most recent happened in August 2022 at the BMW Championship.

Cantlay serves in a key leadership position as a Players Director for the PGA Tour. His involvement has been central in the ongoing discussions between the PGA Tour and LIV.

At last year's Ryder Cup matches a bit of commotion happened when Cantlay's caddie Joe LaCava walked too close to where Rory McIlroy's attempted putt was to be played and the ensuing scrum between LaCava and McIlroy was akin to a heated European football match.

The parties now say the past action is exactly that — in the past.

It's possible Cantlay and McIlroy will be paired together for the weekend rounds as the championship moves forward. One can assume the conversation between the two will be limited — very limited.

Cantlay has long been known for his famed "Paddy Ice" putting stroke. He's also been known as an excruciatingly slow player.

Patrick Cantlay is tied for the lead after the first round at the 2024 US Open
(Seth Wenig/AP)

The broader issue for Patrick is how to attain a stature that, right now, is missing.

The US Open title carries significant respect because of all the requirements it places on one's golf game.

Patrick Cantlay is a very talented player but, in the majors, a non-factor to date. As all professional golfers know - it is the majors that define legacy in the sport.

Schauffele need not hear any more questions on whether he can win a major event. That train left the station with his name on the Wannamaker Trophy.

The next 54 holes at Pinehurst will indicate if Cantlay is now able to change that narrative and create a new jumpstart to his career.

We shall see.

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About M. James Ward

A GWAA and MGWA member, the 66-year-old from the USA has covered golf in all facets since 1980, notably the major championships and other high level events. He has played over 2,000 courses globally and has competed in USGA Championships.

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