The Punter's De-Brief: Cantlay claims the spoils

Golfer Patrick Cantlay
Patrick Cantlay after winning the FedEx Cup

Patrick Cantlay has won the FedEx Cup deciding Tour Championship and Nicolai Hojgaard has created history on the European Tour. Our man looks back at all the action here...

"The best player in the world plays the best golf, shoots the best score for the week but doesn’t win. It’s utter nonsense."

After winning the BMW Championship in extra-time, Patrick Cantlay entered last week's FedEx Cup finale, the Tour Championship, ranked number one in the FedEx Cup standings and two strokes clear of the field. And he began the week as the favourite to win until the money came for the world number one, Jon Rahm.

The Spaniard, who muscled ahead of Cantlay in the market before the off, closed the gap from four strokes to two after the opening round. But he couldn't get any closer after rounds two and three and he eventually lost by a single stroke.

Meanwhile, history was made over on the European Tour where pre-event 290.0289/1 chance, Nicolai Hojgaard, who was matched at 360.0359/1 when the market first opened, held on to win the Italian Open by a stroke to win his first European Tour event, exactly one week after his twin brother, Rasmus, had won his third at the Omega European Masters.

All three of Rasmus' wins have come from off the pace and, only last month, he gave up a three-stroke 54-hole lead at the Cazoo Classic. So although Rasmus leads 3-1 in terms of titles, Nicolai can brag that he's the only one (so far) to do it the hard way.

Nicolai began the final round leading by a stroke and trading at around 5.04/1 but it was by no means a simple victory.

Pre-event 130.0129/1 chance, Adrian Meronk, who's looking to become the first Pole to win on the European Tour, began round four trailing by four and trading at 170.0169/1 and he was matched at 1.9310/11 after he looked like posting a strong enough score. But after playing holes 11, 12 and 13 in four-under-par, he parred his way in and fell one short.

England's Tommy Fleetwood, a pre-tournament 25.024/1 chance, also went odds-on (matched at a low of 1.910/11 after back-to-back birdies at 11 and 12) but, in typical Fleetwood fashion, he wobbled after that with bogeys at 14 and 16.

To his credit, he bounced back with a birdie at par five 18th to tie the lead with Meronk in the clubhouse and Hojgaard behind him on the course but the 20-year-old Dane finished the event brilliantly after a scruffy drive on the 72nd hole.

Having been forced to lay-up from the left rough, he played this brilliant shot to set-up his birdie four for the win.

My Bets

It was an extremely quiet week for me. My 450.0449/1 Find Me a 100 Winner pick, Kevin Na, did me proud at the Tour Championship but he didn't trade short enough to provide any profit for the column unfortunately and I've barely got involved in-running.

My sole in-play pick in Italy, the halfway leader, Min Woo Lee, was disappointing and I have a twinge of regret about not getting on Hojgaard at halfway when he was trading at an eye-catching 36.035/1 but it's been far from a disastrous week.

What Have We Learned This Week?

I'm no fan of the FedEx Cup playoffs. I couldn't care less how much money already obscenely wealthy people win during the series. The handicap system that was put in place three years ago has the propensity to create an extremely dull event, as was the case this year.

Justin Thomas and Bryson DeChambeau both looked like they might muscle in on the act during round two and Thomas would have certainly gone into Sunday closer to the lead had he driven better and played the par five 18th better. But the bottom line is, it looked like a two-man race from a very long way out and having only three plausible candidates with a round to go is hardly exciting.

Thomas was trading at around 15.014/1 but only three players were trading at less than 100.099/1 and Cantlay, Rahm, Thomas and Na were the only four that didn't begin Sunday trading at 1000.0!

As you'll see from the leaderboards below, Rahm and Na shot the lowest 72-hole scores and it's impossible not to feel sorry for the Spaniard. I was an extremely unsatisfactory outcome as far as I'm concerned. The best player in the world plays the best golf, shoots the best score for the week but doesn't win. It's utter nonsense. That said, patterns are emerging and it's a tournament in which there are opportunities.

At the start of the three-event FedEx Cup Series, the Open champion, Colin Morikawa, was the number one player in the rankings but he soon fell away after missing the cut at the Northern Trust and finishing down the field in the BMW (T63). He began the Tour Championship outside the top-10, conceding Cantlay seven strokes, and he's the latest to fail miserably having started the Series in front.

Only Tiger Woods in 2009 and Jordan Spieth in 2015 have gone on to take the Series after starting it at the head of the standings.

And Woods and Rory McIlroy are the only players to have won the Series twice. Patrick Cantlay is the 13th different winner of the FedEx Cup in the 15 years since it began.

It tends to get shared around and Cantlay was the first player to win the BMW and Tour Championships in consecutive weeks since Billy Horschel back in 2014. But Cantlay is now the 11th man to win two Series events and he's the eighth to do so in the last 10 years.

Backing the winners of The Northern Trust and the BMW Championship before the off looks like the way to go. And if they've not won the FedEx Cup before that's all the better.

The PGA Tour is taking a week off this week before the 2021/22 season starts next week when Stewart Cink defends the Fortinet Championship (formerly the Safeway Open) but we've got the European Tour's flagship event from Wentworth to enjoy - the BMW PGA Championship - and if you're a fan of team match play, the Solheim Cup concludes today with Europe taking a 9-7 lead into the singles.

I'll be back tomorrow with my BMW PGA Championship preview.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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