Fourth-ranked Patrick Cantlay stayed ahead of top-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain—barely.
Cantlay, from Los Alamitos and UCLA, sank a 15-foot birdie putt on the last hole to cap a bogey-free, 4-under-par 66 and leads Rahm by one stroke midway through the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.
The winner of the final event of the PGA Tour playoffs will take home the FedEx Cup and $15 million on Sunday.
“My focus and patience have been really good,” said Cantlay, the only player with three victories on the PGA Tour this season. “I just feel very comfortable out there and have really been sure of the speed on the greens, which is important on any course, but especially here. It’s a really good feeling to have and I want to continue with that on the weekend.
“I’ve been plotting my way around the course really well and that’s the way to approach this, to take what this golf course gives you because the pin positions are really tough. I haven’t made as many putts as I did last week, but I just stayed patient and a few started to fall.
“I just have to do the same things on the weekend.”
Cantlay, who took the lead in the FedEx Cup standings after winning the BMW Championship in a dramatic six-hole playoff against seventh-ranked Bryson DeChambeau of Clovis on Monday, made birdies on the sixth, 14th and the last two holes to record a 36-hole score of 17-under 133.
Rahm (pictured), who has continued to play great golf after returning from his second bout with Covid-19 this year, made his only bogey on the 14th hole of a 65 and collected birdies on the seventh, 12th, 13th and the last three holes.
“I’ve just been playing good golf, making good swings,” said Rahm, the reigning U.S. Open champion. “I played well early, but missed some putts, and on the back nine I was able to rely on my short game and make some putts. I made some birdies because the putts started going in the hole.
“There are still 36 holes to play and that’s a lot of golf. I just want to keep playing the way I am and fix a few little mistakes. I’m just focusing on myself and fighting on every shot. I’ve been doing a really good job of that so far.”
DeChambeau chipped in for a birdie from 28 feet at No. 17 and sank a 10-foot birdie putt on the last hole to shoot 67 and is six shots back in third, followed by sixth-ranked Justin Thomas, the 2017 FedEx Cup champion, who made a 10-foot eagle putt on the sixth hole but had two late bogeys in another 67 and is one more down in fourth.
Ninth-ranked Tony Finau birdied three of the last four holes in yet another 67 and is eight strokes behind in a tie for fifth with Kevin Na of Diamond Bar, who had a bogey-free 67, Viktor Hovland of Norway and Cameron Smith of Australia, who both shot 68, and Harris English, who finished at 69.
Eighth-ranked Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa birdied three of the first five holes and the last in another 67 and is nine shots back in a tie for 10th with two-time FedEx Cup champion Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, who collected six birdies on the back nine in a 66, and 2015 FedEx Cup winner Jordan Spieth, who birdied the first three holes of the back nine and No. 18 in another 67.
Second-ranked Dustin Johnson, defending his FedEx Cup and Tour Championship titles, is 15th after a 69, fifth-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State, the Olympic Gold Medalist, also shot 69 and is tied for 16th, and 10th-ranked Brooks Koepka sank a 37-foot eagle putt on the last hole and is 18th after a 71.
Third-ranked Collin Morikawa of La Canada Flintridge and Cal birdied two of the last three holes to salvage a 73 and is 25th, while reigning Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama of Japan bounced back from a 77 by making four birdies on the first seven holes and two on the last three to cap a 65 and is tied for 26th.
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