Patrick Cantlay wins 1st PGA Tour title at Shriners Open

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The former World No.1 Amateur overcame a three-man play-off to win his first PGA Tour title at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. 

Less than 12 months since he returned, Patrick Cantlay has moved in to the world's top 50 and picked up his first PGA Tour title - needing just a par on the second play-off hole to do so. 

Cantlay began the day four shots behind, but after four straight birdies from the 11th he found himself with a two shot lead over the rest of the field at 11-under-par. 

He let that slip with back-to-back bogeys on his final two holes, but in the tough and windy conditions it was enough to see him reach a play-off with Alex Cjeka and Whee Kim. JJ Spaun had made it to 10-under-par with two holes to go, but a double-double finish saw him drop back in to a share of 10th place. 

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Cantlay needed to hole an eight-foot bogey putt on the first play-off hole to keep himself in the contest, and the trio returned to the par four 18th hole for the second time - only for Cantlay to leak his drive out right, leaving trees between him and the green.

He cut an impressive four-iron shot between the trees, and nearly holed his 70-foot birdie putt from over the green. In the end, Cjeka missed his par putt and Kim was looking at a bogey, so a three-foot par putt was enough for Cantlay's first PGA Tour victory. 

"I felt like as long as I kept it below the tree branch that was in front of me and cut it enough, I felt like it would go in a pretty decent spot," Cantlay said.

"I maybe didn't cut it as much as I wanted to. I think the rough stopped it from being able to spin and get any cut on it, but it ended up in a good spot. It was a good shot."

It's not been an easy road for the 25-year-old, whose break through win comes after a remarkable return last season from problems both on and off the course.

He's struggled with back injuries since 2013 and suffered personal trajedy in 2016 with the loss of his friend and caddie, Chris Roth, who was tragically killed in a hit and run while Cantlay was with him.

However, since returning in February last year, he didn't miss a single cut in the 12 events he played, and even finished runner-up to Adam Hadwin at the Valspar Championship in March. 

"There's not a lot of give up in me," Cantlay said. "I never really thought about giving it up. I thought maybe there was a chance my back would never feel good enough to play again. But, fortunately, I feel great. I have a good program. I figured out a way to feel good all the time. It's all good. I'm happy to be playing."

Cantlay didn't decide to enter Las Vegas a week ago Friday when he was at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in Shanghai. He earned $1,224,000, a two-year exemption and moved into the top 50 in world.

"Goals for the rest of the season, definitely majors," Cantlay said. "It will be nice to be into all of those, and making it all the way to the FedExCup final and playing well in those events, those are big. First time playing last year, and really realized the gravity of them, and would like to do well and compete there, too."

Patton Kizzire, JT Poston and Chesson Hadley took a share of 4th place, with Bryson Dechambeau, Tom Hoge and Beau Hossler taking up the rest of the top 10 on seven-under-par. 

Patrick Cantlay: WITB

Driver: Titleist 917D2 (9.5 degrees)

3 Wood: Titleist 915F (15 degrees)

Hybrid: Titleist 816 H2 (21 degrees)

Irons: Titleist 716 AP2 (4-PW)

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM5 (54-10 S Grind), Titleist Vokey SM6 (56 and 60 degrees)

Putter: Scotty Cameron GSS prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x