Titleist Brand Ambassador Patrick Cantlay collected his first PGA Tour title Sunday at the Shriners Hospital for Children Open after prevailing in a three-man all-Titleist golf ball sudden-death playoff. The victory came as his fifth top-15 finish in his last six starts on the PGA Tour, caps off an impressive 2017 for the 25 year old.
And as we look toward the 2018 season, Team Titleist was able to catch up with Patrick over the phone after his win and talk everything from the final moments Sunday to his favorite courses to play in his hometown of Los Angeles. We hope you enjoy our Q&A with Patrick below.
Q: With a victory this week, as you probably know, you get into the Sentry Tournament of Champions, the Masters Tournament and the PGA Championship. How does it feel knowing you'll be playing in those events?
Patrick: It's exciting. I think it's where everybody wants to start their year. From what I've heard, it's kind of a different week with how big the golf course is and how often the wind blows. It's always good to be in that tournament, and I hope it's the first of many. The emphasis for the year is definitely on the majors and gearing the whole tournament schedule and gearing my own practice schedule for the majors is going to be the most important thing that I do all year, and I'm excited for it.
I love major championship golf. I've played in a few, and I feel like the courses are set up for my game. I like the firmest, fastest golf course you can find, especially fast greens. That's one of the things I love about Augusta National. I feel like it's easier to putt at Augusta National than almost any other place because of how good the conditions are and how big the slopes are. I'm looking forward to the majors and I'm looking forward to being able to pick my schedule for the first time. The last tournament I was going to play this year was going to be Vegas, so it's nice that my last opportunity was also a way to qualify for the Maui tournament.
Q: Can you walk us through the final playoff hole from tee to green?
Patrick: I was trying to hit a good drive in the right center of the fairway. I pushed it a little, and the wind took it a little bit to the right. I thought I'd be short of those trees and be not bad but, obviously, I was in a terrible spot. I looked at the gap to go through, and I looked at chipping out. Those were really the only two options. I didn't want to chip out. I felt like I needed to make a four. I needed to give myself the best opportunity at making four, and I thought chipping out and leaving myself with that 9 or 8-iron shot that everyone had been missing the green from ... I didn't think that gave me that good of a chance at making a four, and I needed it.
After I thought about it and realized that the best chance was to get it up there somewhere near the green, I just really tried to focus in and commit on how I was going to do that best. I hit a really good shot there, was really committed and took my time with that 4-iron shot from the rough. From there on, it was pretty straightforward. I knew I was going to putt. There wasn't really another option there, and it was all about trying to dial in.
Q: How did you choose to play a 4-iron out of the rough?
Patrick: I was 185 yards or so away from the hole. I thought slightly about 5-iron but, I had to keep it so low that I was going to sacrifice ensuring that. It was easier to keep it low and take the chance that it might go a little long, especially because long there isn't bad. Short is. I felt like if I was going to try and squeeze it through that low hole, then I needed to hit 4-iron.
Q: Was there any shot during the final round or throughout the week that felt like a turning point for you?
Patrick: I wasn't going along that well on Thursday. It was tough, it was windy, and I was a couple over early. Making those four birdies on the back nine on Thursday really set me up for the rest of the tournament, and put a really, really good vibe on how I felt about that first round at the end of the day, considering the start.
Then making those four birdies on Sunday. You needed to score before the wind started kicking up. I'd say the putt I had on 15 for par, combined with those four birdies, was the stretch of golf that really set me up to win. You could say the best shot I hit all day was the shot out of the rough in the second playoff hole.
Q: Let's get into some questions about you. What's your favorite course to play in Los Angeles?
Patrick: Riviera Country Club at tournament time is pretty good, and I'll reserve judgment until I see the U.S. Open at LA Country Club, when they get it firm and fast. That's how I'll decide which I like more between LA Country Club and Riviera.
Q: When you played in the Walker Cup, your team was pretty stacked. There's eight of you playing on the tour today. How have experiences like that helped you become the golfer you are now?
Patrick: You get to play in a team format so little in golf that playing in those weeks are special. Thinking about that week inspires me to work really hard to get onto the Presidents Cup team and the Ryder Cup team this year. That's a big goal of mine. I feel like I thrive in match play, and I thrive in really competitive formats like that. And not even just make the team, but make the team so I can contribute and help beat the Europeans. The more competitive, the more head-to-head it is, the more I like it.
Q: You had such a decorated amateur career. What would you say is one of your most memorable moments, and what did you learn from it?
Patrick: It's pretty cliché, but shooting 60 in the Travelers was the highlight for sure, especially with my best friend on the bag. It was just fun. My dad was there, my grandpa was there, my best friend was caddying. It was just a blast to do that, and it was unexpected. At the time, it's not something you think, 'Oh, I'm just going to go out and shoot 10 under in a round.'
What I learned is ... Golf is just golf. It could be at a major or it could be at home ... If I play really well, I'm going to have a good score, and it will go a long way. My best is good enough to win any week in any tournament I play.
Q: Do you remember your the first tee shot you hit at a Tour event, as a professional or an amateur?
Patrick: My first tour event was the 2011 U.S. Open, and I was about as nervous as I ever have been in my life. Usually, I say that I just have adrenaline, but I was actually nervous for that shot. I was shaking. It was probably because the 10th hole at Congressional Country Club is a 215-yard (par-3) hole, all carry over water with a bunch of people around. I blacked out a little bit, and I hit a really good shot to about four or five feet and made birdie. I don't want it over again.
Q: Do you have any games during practice rounds that Team Titleist members should try?
Patrick: I don't have any during practice rounds, but I have a couple of drills that I do for putting. I try and hit 10- to 12-footers that break left to right a fair amount, and right to left a fair amount, and not leave until I make 16 out 20 from each side. Once I miss five, I'll restart, but you have to make 16 out 20. It can take a while.
For me, it really helps me train my eyes to feel the amount of break, see the amount of break, and then train my eyes to look in the right spot. It helps my stroke. I get really tuned in by trying to make all those putts in a row, that you can feel when you hit a little too hard or you push it a little bit. You start to feel that, and you put all that feedback over and over again on a putt that's breaking. By the time you get out on the course, if you get any putt that's around that length or even inside, it feels easy because you feel like you've just made a bunch. I feel like that's positive reinforcement, and it really helps me with my feel when I'm putting.
Q: If we were to ask you to tell us what Titleist means to you in one word, what would that one word be?
Patrick: Consistent. I feel like any Titleist product I've ever used is a solid product. There's no gimmicks. You know it's going to be consistently playable. It's going to be a well-rounded and consistent, and that's all the way through the bag, golf ball to driver.
Q: Have you always played Pro V1x, or did you ever play the Professional or Balata?
Patrick: All of my tournament golf has been with the Pro V1x, since I can remember.
We may have aged ourselves a little with that last question, with the launch of Pro V1 in 2000. Congratulations Patrick, and thanks for taking the time to chat with Team Titleist!