WILMINGTON, Del. — Patrick Cantlay won another thriller in the BMW Championship on Sunday, got a great bounce on the 17th hole that resulted in a short birdie and led to a 2-under 69 and a 1-shot victory over Scott Stallings.
Cantlay became the first player to win the BMW Championship in consecutive years since the FedEx Cup began in 2007. This was on a different course and he didn’t have to go six playoff holes. He also doesn’t have the FedEx Cup lead to the finals in East Lake next week.
All that mattered was winning at Wilmington Country Club, but he needed some help.
He was stuck for the lead on the 420-meter 17th hole when he decided to hit a driver, and feared he would be hanged in a series of bunkers to the right. But the ball landed just before the final under, took a big leap over the sand and tumbled through the first cut and into the fairway just 64 yards from the hole.
“I hit a lot of solid [shots] and got a lot of good breaks,” Cantlay said. “That break was something I didn’t expect. It was big for me to take advantage of it.”
He did. Cantlay hit a spinner that skipped 5 feet from the flag and stopped, birdie putt for the lead and then found the green at No. 18 from a fairway bunker.
A year ago, he made one clutch after another about an hour away in Caves Valley, beating Bryson DeChambeau. That earned him first place in the Tour Championship, which comes with a 2-shot margin before the tournament starts, and Cantlay won the FedEx Cup and the $18 million prize with a 1-shot win over Jon Rahm.
This time he enters the FedEx Cup final as the number 2 seed, meaning he will start 2 shots behind Masters champion Scottie Scheffler next week.
Scheffler launched a late attack with three birdies in four holes and got 1 shot behind. But he missed a 4-foot par putt on the last hole for a 70, and it looked like it could cost him.
Xander Schauffele, who played with Cantlay in the latter group, had a 7-foot birdie putt. Had he made it, Schauffele would have finished third alone, taking Scheffler into fourth. That would have made Cantlay the best seed. But the putt slipped past the right. Schauffele had a 71.
Stallings has gotten 238 starts since his last win at Torrey Pines eight years ago, and he played like that drought was going to end. But he missed four birdie opportunities within 18 feet at the end, the last from just within 10 feet.
The consolation prize is his first trip to the Tour Championship.
Stallings was not alone. Adam Scott goes back to East Lake. He was number 77 in the FedEx Cup when the postseason began and a tie for fifth place last week put him at number 45.
Scott made an eagle-eye on the 12th hole and hit some fantastic lag putts on firm, crisp greens in Wilmington for a 71, finishing fifth.
Needing a par on the last hole, Scott pulled his tee shot to the edge of a bunker, which meant standing in the sand and trying to get out of a sticky first cut with the golf ball about thigh high. He pulled it into a bunker and then hit a beautiful shot to tap in.
Aaron Wise had a 73 and finished 30th. He was one of four players to make it to the top 30 and qualify for the Tour Championship. The others were Stallings, Scott, Wise and KH Lee, who had 65 on Sunday to finish fifth.