Spotlight on: Patrick Cantlay hoping for home win at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

The Californian local and World No.4 finished tied third last year and has his eyes on taking victory at one of his favourite places in the world.

Patrick Cantlay is far from alone in describing Pebble Beach and the Monterey Peninsula as "one of my favourite places in the world".

But as a local Californian, there is perhaps just that little extra incentive to add this still prestigious trophy to his list of achievements.

The second half of last season couldn't have gone any better for the 29-year-old.

The man from Long Beach racked up a hat-trick of wins. He lifted the silverware at the Memorial Tournament for the second time in three years and then landed the $15,000,000 season-long bonus for winning the FedEx Cup courtesy of triumphs in the final two play-off events, the BMW Championship and The Tour Championship.

To ice the cake, he was voted PGA Tour Player of the Year.

After putting his feet up since the Ryder Cup, Cantlay has finished fourth and ninth in his two 2022 starts so far.

Can he use those finishes as a springboard for victory this week? Here is what Cantlay said in his pre-tournament press conference.

Cantlay on Pebble Beach

"It's one of my favorite places in the world. I love the Monterrey Peninsula and I love Pebble Beach and so every time I'm here I feel lucky and no different this week.

"I think I played a round here when I was maybe 12 years old with my dad. But I had never played a tournament here until I was a pro.

"I mean, I love California golf and this is the epitome of California golf and so I think it's great and I definitely feel at home. I didn't pay when I was 12 either!"

Cantlay on what defines California golf

"I would say greens that are for the most part traditional and very severely sloped back to front. Poa annua greens and in general the properties are more condensed.

"There's less real estate so it feels like the properties are a little older in general and that's just golf I played growing up junior golf.

"So I grew up at Virginia Country Club, which is a very old-school golf course and so whenever I'm on poa annua greens at a course like Pebble Beach it feels like I've played courses like that my whole life."

Cantlay on his favourite California courses

"I would say if I could play any golf course with my buddies I would play Pebble Beach or Cypress Point because the walk is just unparalleled, the ocean's right there.

"For tournament golf, I actually think Riviera may be the best tournament golf course in the country.

"There's hardly any out of bounds except for maybe the 12th hole, there's no water, they don't actually really grow the rough up or narrow the fairways for that tournament week, it always has 14, 15-under as the winner, sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less.

"And they give you the first hole as kind of a 3-wood and a 6-iron par-5.

"Tournament golf like that's really fun because it feels like your strategy's more important and yet no shot is more important than the other. And it's also a really tough test of golf."

Cantlay on his start to the season

"Game has been good. I took a long time off and so now I'm back in the swing of things and going to have a bunch more starts here coming up and so everything's been good and just going to keep doing the same process that I've been doing

"It's been working and I'm excited to have a bunch of events coming up. Play next week in Phoenix (WM Phoenix Open) and then L.A. (Genesis Invitational).

Cantlay's course form

Cantlay has made all five cuts at Pebble Beach; in fact, six, if you include his tied 21st in the 2019 US Open held there.

In this event, he was ninth on debut in 2013, tied 35th in 2017, tied 35th in 2018, tied 11th in 2020 and tied third last year after being the first-round leader.

The event is held over multiple courses (just two last year due to Covid). Here's the breakdown of his scores:

2021 - R1: Pebble Beach (-10), R2: Spyglass Hill (+1), R3: Pebble Beach (-2), R4: Pebble Beach (-4)

2020 - R1: Spyglass Hill (-6), R2: Monterey Peninsula (-2), R3: Pebble Beach (Evs), R4: Pebble Beach (+1)

2018 - R1: Monterey Peninsula (-5), R2: Pebble Beach (Evs), R3: Spyglass Hill (Evs), R4: Pebble Beach (-1)

2017 - R1: Monterey Peninsula (-1), R2: Spyglass Hill (-1), R3: Pebble Beach (-1), R4: Pebble Beach (Evs)

2013 - R1: Monterey Peninsula (-4), R2: Spyglass Hill (-2), R3: Pebble Beach (Evs), R4: Pebble Beach (-5)

Overall to par: -22 Pebble Beach (11 rounds), -8 Spyglass Hill (5 rounds), -12 Monterey Peninsula (5 rounds)

Cantlay begins this year at Monterey Peninsula.

Cantlay in the first round

Another way of breaking down Cantlay's scores is by round. And it's pretty clear which day he likes best: Thursday.

R1 to par: -26

R2 to par: -4

R3 to par: -3

R4 to par: -9

He's gone low on day one whichever the course but of particular note was his superb 10-under 62 at Pebble last year. It included a 29 on the front nine

His position on the R1 leaderboard after those fast starts: 1st, 2nd, 4th, 13th, 5th.

Cantlay this season

He's only played twice since the Ryder Cup and didn't begin the new wraparound 2021/22 campaign until last month's Sentry Tournament of Champions.

Cantlay finished fourth there after rounds of 66-67-66-67 and he then shot 62 (where have we heard that before?!) in round one of The American Express but had to settle for tied ninth after 68-72-68 over the final three days.

He's been in the top 10 for Strokes Gained: Off The Tee in both events but lost strokes on Approach at the Amex which doesn't happen very often.

The putter isn't quite hot enough either. He's gained strokes on the greens in both tournaments but only 0.936 at the Sentry and 0.198 at The American Express.

Conclusion

Watch out for another fast start. But don't presume he'll turn it into a win.

That's his pattern here although perhaps the confidence gained from those wins at the end of 2021 will make him harder to dislodge if he goes into the weekend in front.

READ MORE: The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: The leading title contenders heading to the Monterey Peninsula

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