CHARLOTTE, N.C. — You might forgive Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay for making a large number of Quail Hole’s 14th gap. It took till 4:19 p.m. native time on Friday afternoon for both of them to see it for the primary time all week.
Crew Schauffele/Cantlay reached the 14th in a state of euphoria. They have been 5 up with 5 holes to play, and wanted solely to seek out the placing floor on the 223-yard, lake-defended par-3 to shut issues out. The 2 gamers — ranked 4th and fifth on this planet, respectively — walked arm-in-arm, smiles plastered on their faces. As soon as once more, they’d totally dominated their match-play opponents. Quickly they’d be basking the glow of one other shared victory.
However then one thing odd occurred. After a brief dialog, Cantlay swung first, a skyball that began off the toe of the membership and ended brief left of the inexperienced. Then got here Schauffele. One other mishit, this one beginning proper and careening off a financial institution into a set space.
Their opponents, Hideki Matsuyama and Tom Kim, each discovered the inexperienced with their tee photographs. A couple of minutes later, Schauffele and Cantlay watched as Kim poured in his birdie putt to increase the match.
“Pat and I, sadly, usually considered one of us will save one another,” Schauffele mentioned later of his pairing’s effort on the 14th. “However we hit two of our worst tee photographs all week on the identical gap.”
Lastly, the U.S. Presidents Cup crew’s juggernaut pairing regarded human.
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Can anybody cease Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay? Goodness, it doesn’t look that approach.
On the Presidents Cup, Schauffele and Cantlay haven’t simply beat opponents, they’ve embarrassed them. It’s the continuation of a rising development for the uber-talented buddies, a sample that has them morphing shortly into america’ most deadly match-play pairing.
On Thursday, Schauffele and Cantlay caught an early knife within the Internationals hopes of their first match in opposition to their opponent’s solely skilled pairing, Matsuyama and Adam Scott. In an indication of confidence, captain Davis Love III put Schauffele and Cantlay out first for the closely favored People and provided a easy message: handle enterprise. The 2 golfers wasted no time attending to work, buying and selling birdie after birdie till they walked off the course after the thirteenth gap with a 6-and-5 throttling.
The victory moved Schauffele and Cantlay to 6-2-0 as teammates and 4-0-0 within the final 12 months (5-0-0 in case you depend the PGA Tour’s Zurich Basic, the place Schauffele and Cantlay broke the match scoring report), a stretch by which the pair’s common margin of victory is 4 up.
“They don’t even want to speak to the captains anymore,” NBC Sports activities’ John Wooden mentioned Friday. “‘Simply inform us our tee time for the primary spherical and we’ll see you there.’ Simply throwing increasingly more coal on the hearth and after they get the prepare going, it’s unbelievable how good they play collectively.”
In fact, it hasn’t all the time been this straightforward. On the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne in 2019, captain Tiger Woods paired the 2 rookies collectively for a lot of crew play. With the People on their heels within the opening days, their play sagged.
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“We have been kind of put within the fireplace there taking part in all matches,” Schauffele remembers. “We have been each rookies there. We knew one another fairly effectively, however you get to know one another rather well whenever you’re in these crew rooms. In all probability in Australia is after we turned very shut, and we continued our friendship from there.”
The friendship blossomed right into a full-blown bromance on the Ryder Cup in Whistling Straits, the place the 2 golfers went 2-0-0 collectively in a triumphant American win. On a traditionally topsy-turvy U.S. crew, Schauffele and Cantlay have been stronger than granite on the course, and tighter than anybody off it. Then got here the 2022 season, the win on the Zurich Basic, the shared journey to Napa Valley, and, in the end, the Presidents Cup.
After they arrived at Quail Hole, it was much less of a query of “if” they’d be paired collectively on the Presidents Cup than “when.” (“If it’s cool with you guys, we’re simply going to run it again,” Love advised Schauffele and Cantlay.)
Today, Schauffele and Cantlay are starting to attract extra consideration than the U.S.’s different high-profile pairing, Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. No less than a few of that is because of persona. Thomas and Spieth play a high-flying type that’s dazzling and fairly often terrifying. Schauffele and Cantlay, however, are relentless.
“Our type of play may be very related,” Schauffele agrees. “Throw it to the fats a part of the greens, attempt to make the most of par-5s, low stress.”
Low stress, and fairly often, excessive reward. These are the advantages of sharing the identical type and, it usually seems, the identical mind.
“I really feel like Melbourne, we performed all the first 4 matches with one another,” Schauffele mentioned. “Ever since, we’ve simply felt actually comfy taking part in this format with one another. The New Orleans match this 12 months form of secured that feeling between the 2 of us, and we’re simply going to trip that scorching streak.”
Their bid for 7-3-0 should wait till no less than Saturday afternoon on the Presidents Cup. On late Friday night, Love introduced he wouldn’t be taking part in Schauffele and Cantlay in Saturday’s morning foursomes session.
In the end, it appears, Schauffele and Cantlay have met their match: their captain.
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