Patrick Cantlay defends title in another thriller at BMW Championship

A year ago, he made one clutch putt after another about an hour down the road at Caves Valley to beat Bryson DeChambeau. That gave him the top seed at the TOUR Championship, which comes with a two-shot margin with the tournament’s “Starting Strokes” scoring, and Cantlay won the FedExCup and its $18 million prize with a one-shot win over Jon Rahm.

This time, he goes into the finale as the No. 2 seed, meaning he will start next week two shots behind four-time winner this season Scottie Scheffler.

Scheffler put on a late charge with three birdies in four holes and was one shot behind. But he missed a 4-foot par putt on the final hole for a 70, and it looked like it might cost him.

Xander Schauffele, playing in the final group with Cantlay, had a 7-foot birdie putt. If he made it, Schauffele would have finished alone in third, moving Scheffler to fourth. That would have made Cantlay the top seed. But the putt slid by on the right. Schauffele had a 71.

Stallings has gone 238 starts since his last victory eight years ago at Torrey Pines, and he played like that drought might end. But he missed four birdie chances inside 18 feet at the end, the last one from just inside 10 feet.

The consolation prize is his first trip to the TOUR Championship.

Stallings wasn’t alone. Adam Scott is making his way back to East Lake. He was at No. 77 in the FedExCup when the postseason started and a tie for the fifth last week moved him to No. 45.

Scott made eagle on the 12th hole and hit some superb lag putts on firm, crispy greens at Wilmington for a 71 to tie for fifth.

Needing a par on the last hole, Scott tugged his tee shot to the edge of a bunker, meaning he had to stand in the sand and try to hit out of a sticky first cut with the golf ball about thigh-high. He pulled that into a bunker, then hit a splendid shot to tap-in ran.

Aaron Wise had a 73 and earned the 30th spot. He was among four players who moved into the top 30 who are eligible for the Tour Championship. The others were Stallings, Scott, Aaron Wise and KH Lee, who had a 65 on Sunday to tie for fifth.

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