Patrick Cantlay got another handshake with Jack Nicklaus, this time as the Memorial winner. Starting four shots behind, Cantlay closed with an eight-under-par 64 for a two-shot victory Sunday in Dublin, Ohio.
It was the lowest final round by a winner in tournament history, and it moved the 27-year-old Californian into the top 10 in the world.
Martin Kaymer, trying to end five years without a victory, started with a two-shot lead and never recovered from back-to-back bogeys on the back nine. He shot 38 on the back nine and finished with a 72.
Adam Scott was the last player with a chance to catch Cantlay when he ran off three straight birdies to get within two shots, but he narrowly missed birdies on the last two holes and had to settle for a 68.
Cantlay first met the tournament host in 2011 when he won the Jack Nicklaus Award as the top player in college at UCLA. And he leaned on the advice of Nicklaus going into the final round to relax, enjoy the surroundings and finish it off.
“I finished it,” Cantlay told Nicklaus as he walked off the 18th green after making an 8-foot par putt that effectively sealed it.
Cantlay finished at 19-under 269 and won for the second time in a PGA Tour career that is younger than it seems. A rising star coming out of UCLA — he was low amateur at the 2011 U.S. Open and opened with a 60 at the Travelers Championship a week later — he missed two full years with a back injury that nearly cost him his career.
He is in his third full year since returning, and a victory over a strong field on a strong course is what long was expected of his skills.
And there some atonement at Muirfield Village for Cantlay. A year ago, he took a two-shot lead to the back nine and didn't make a birdie the rest of the way, missing a playoff by two shots. This time, he putted for birdie on every hole on the back nine until the 18th.
“Being able to win on this golf course, in front of Jacking, making that putt on the last hole, I can't tell you how good it feels,” he said.
Scott finished at 17-under 271. Only six other players have had a lower 72-hole score at the Memorial since it began in 1976.
One of them is Cantlay, who moves to No. 8 in the world with a U.S. Open at Pebble Beach looming. Cantlay is the only player to finish in the top 10 at both majors this year, leading late at the Masters until two bogeys over the last three holes.