Cantlay keeps his nose in front at the Tour Championship

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Cantlay keeps his nose in front at the Tour Championship

Patrick Cantlay plays his shot from the 18th tee during the third round of the TOUR Championship at East Lake Golf Club on September 04, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Patrick Cantlay retains the lead at the Tour Championship after a third round 67 gave him a two-stroke cushion over World #1 Jon Rahm, while Rory McIlroy slumped to a 4-over par 74 to drop back into a tie for 17th on 4-under par.

Cantlay sits on 20-under but it could have been even better for the Californian as he held a four-stroke lead after his birdie on the 10th only to bogey 11, 14 and 16 which cut the lead to one before an 18th hole birdie extended his margin once more.

“I thought it was big for momentum. It was a nice putt to make, especially being out of position on that hole. And I’ll take that momentum into tomorrow. I thought I rolled the ball on the greens just as good as the last couple days, and my speed was good, and a few putts went in today which was nice. So I feel like I’m in a good spot going into tomorrow, and that putt on 18 put the momentum in the right direction,” said Cantlay.

Cantlay is no rookie and with four wins under his belt this season, the latest of which came last week in a six-hole playoff with Bryson DeChambeau, so he won’t be fazed by the pressure which will undoubtedly be exerted by Rahm on Sunday, but what about the prize money?

“The internal drive to win golf tournaments is really what drives me, and so the external factors are not as much of a factor for me,” he added.

“I’m going to feel similar to how I feel most any Sunday when I’m coming down the stretch for a golf tournament because my drive to win is strong inside me. And so the other stuff is just a consequence of that, and I don’t play the game to make money. I play the game because I want to win golf tournaments and I love doing that, and I’m in a great spot to do that tomorrow.”

Rahm didn’t have his best day by his own admission but he’s still very much in the hunt and he’ll be looking forward to teeing up in the final group, particularly after the four shot lead was reduced to just two.

“(Today was) Not my best. Great off the tee, I must say. Man, hitting it really good off the tee. Just wasn’t as sharp as I wanted to be with my irons,” said Rahm.

“It was one of those days where there was a lot of in-between numbers, right. It was just I don’t think it happened once today, a perfect stock number, no doubt about it. There was a lot of three-quarters and finessing around, and certain holes I just played a little bit more conservative, and didn’t give myself the best chances to make putts, right.

“I felt like I had a lot of putts between 20 and 30 feet today and with the hole locations we had, it’s not like it was the easiest putts, right.

“But I hung in there, gave myself a couple chances down the stretch. Too bad I couldn’t make one of the putts, but still a good round within what it is, right. This golf course is not easy. So with what I had, I posted a good score and I’m in a good spot for tomorrow.

Justin Thomas bogeyed his final hole but still managed to tie the best round of the day (65) and he’s in third place on 15-under par while Kevin Na is two shots further back on 13-under.

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