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Extended time off energizes Patrick Cantlay for 2022 golf season

As the Shriners Children’s Open approached last fall, it was hard to avoid Patrick Cantlay in Las Vegas. Whether it was billboards lining the freeways or advertisements for the tournament, Cantlay was front and center.

And why not? Cantlay had just wrapped up a career season, named player of the year by his peers, won the final two events of the playoffs to claim the FedEx Cup, and played a starring role on the dominant U.S. Ryder Cup team.

A Shriners regular, Cantlay had a win, two seconds and an eighth over the previous four years.

But when tournament week rolled around in October, Cantlay was a no-show. Then he skipped the prestigious CJ Cup the following week. Then the ZoZo Championship, where he was the defending champion. Just like that, Cantlay bypassed the entire fall season.

He finally surfaced last week in Hawaii for the Sentry Tournament of Champions, a full 100 days since he had played a PGA Tour event.

The time off, he said, was much needed after such a draining year.

“In golf, there’s tournaments all year round that you almost have to force yourself to take time off, and I thought that was the perfect opportunity for me to get a couple months and rest my body and rest my mind,” he said last week. “That way, I can play the rest of this year just really fresh and excited to go out and compete.”

Any signs of rust weren’t visible at Kapalua, where he finished fourth with an astounding 26-under for the week.

Cantlay said the extended break made him more excited than usual to play, once he got to Hawaii.

“Getting ready for this tournament, I noticed I was more excited even than usual to go out and just practice, because I had taken some time off, which means I took enough time off,” he said.

The break, he said, included not much of anything.

“I did some workouts and kind of just spent time at home,” he said. “I travel so much playing golf all over that spending time at home is really nice.”

Home is West Palm Beach, Florida, where he did little but re-energize for 2022.

“I didn’t do too many exciting things,” he said. “I don’t get up too much when I’m not playing golf. I mean, obviously my golf stuff is the most exciting thing that I do. So when I’m at home, reading a book on the couch, there’s really not a lot of stuff going on.”

After his career year in 2021, the next logical step for Cantlay, who turns 30 on the eve of this year’s Masters, would be to win a major. His best finishes to date came in 2019 with a tie for third at the PGA Championship and ninth at the Masters.

Asked if he just needs to peak at the right time to win a major, Cantlay wasn’t so sure.

“I think the idea of even thinking that you could be so cognizant of when your highs and lows are and being able to predict those out so they peak at the right time is a little crazy to me,” he said. “I think prepping for every tournament as best as you can and not playing too many events so you’re not wiped out mentally and physically gives you the best chance to perform at your peak every time you tee it up.”

Chip shots

— The Southern Nevada Golf Association is hosting two rules of golf seminars this month for players, coaches, volunteers or anyone interested in becoming a rules official. Classes are on Jan. 19 at Wildhorse Golf Club and Jan. 26 at Siena Golf Club. Details at snga.org.

— The Henderson Chamber of Commerce Foundation Golf Tournament will be held Jan. 31 at DragonRidge Golf Club. Proceeds will benefit LaunchPad, an incubator space in downtown. Cost is $300 per player or $1,100 for a foursome. For details, call 702-565-8951.

Greg Robertson covers golf for the Review-Journal. He can be reached at grobertson@reviewjournal.com.

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