Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Golf

Valspar Championship journal: Runnerup Patrick Cantlay has reason to celebrate

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PALM HARBOR — Patrick Cantlay was a little bummed out that he didn't win the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook on Sunday. But he does have reason to celebrate.

With his second-place finish, Cantlay earned $680,000. He is playing in PGA Tour events on a major medical exemption stemming from a back injury in 2013. Entering the Valspar, he had played in only two tournaments in the past three years, none in 2016.

As part of the exemption, he needed to earn 389 FedEx Cup points or $624,746 in 10 tournaments to become exempt for the rest of the season. His finish Sunday — one shot behind winner Adam Hadwin after shooting a final-round 3-under 68 on the Copperhead Course for 13-under 271 — fulfilled that requirement.

"It didn't really feel like a burden to begin with," Cantlay said. "I'm not too worried about that. It doesn't really feel like much of a consolation at the moment. I didn't finish the deal."

Wild week

Keith Mitchell had to work hard just to get into the Valspar Championship. A member of the Web.com Tour, he has no PGA Tour status. He played in the Monday qualifier at Southern Hills Plantation Club in Brooksville but was in a five-way tie for the fourth and final qualifying spot.

Tuesday morning he drained a 25-foot birdie putt to claim the final spot in the Valspar field at Innisbrook. He had brought only one set of clothes with him from his home in Sea Island, Ga., and had forgotten his golf shoes. He borrowed shoes from a friend and had other PGA Tour friends from Sea Island bring clothes for him Tuesday.

Despite all the chaos, Mitchell made the cut. After a final-round 3-under 68, he finished at 6-under 278 and tied for 11th. That is the highest finish by a Monday qualifier in any PGA tournament this season.

Mitchell, a 25-year-old University of Georgia graduate, started the tournament with an eagle, and he ended it with a 48-foot birdie putt. It was his first tournament on the PGA Tour.

"It's been crazy," he said. "I tried to treat it just like any other tournament, which was hard to do."

Mitchell needed to finish in the top 10 to get into the Puerto Rico Open field two weeks from now. But he does leave Innisbrook with much more confidence.

"I think this will help me a lot the rest of the year, knowing that if I can compete out here, I can compete on the Web (tour)," Mitchell said. "I want to earn my way out here next year. That's the goal."

Round of the day

Tony Finau made a big move by shooting 7-under 64. He finished fifth at 11 under. Finau earned $252,000.

By the numbers

3 Bogey-free rounds Sunday (Finau, Ian Poulter, Patrick Reed)

4 Players who made this tournament the first win in their career (Carl Petterson, Gary Woodland, Kevin Streelman and Hadwin on Sunday)

14 Canadians who have won on the PGA Tour. Hadwin added his name to the list Sunday.

112,000 Estimated attendance for the tournament's four rounds. Last year's estimate was 105,000.

Quote of the day

"I played really hard to shoot 3-under par (Sunday). It wasn't pretty, but there's no pictures on the scorecard."

Jim Herman (below), who finished tied for third at 12-under 272

 
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