Patrick Cantlay’s one word description of THE PLAYERS Championship test at TPC Sawgrass: “Precise”

The reigning FedExCup champion has had mixed fortunes on the Stadium Course but his record there is better than it first appears.

At first glance, Patrick Cantlay's record in THE PLAYERS Championship is not that great.

He's played it four times, is yet to land a top 20 and he's missed the cut in his last two starts.

But scratch beneath the surface and a slightly different picture emerges.

For one thing, he revealed on debut in 2017, that he twice played a junior event at the course. "So I feel comfortable out here," he said. "I like it. It rewards smart play and solid shots."

During that first start he ended the first, second and third rounds in the top 10 only to fall back to T22nd on Sunday.

It was a pattern that repeated itself a year later: he shared the lead after 18 holes, was second after 36, ninth after 54 and then fell back to T23rd.

Nor was it the first time that he had made bold starts at Sawgrass.

When he played the Jacksonville Open on the venue's Valley Course during the 2012 Korn Ferry Tour he was second after 54 holes before ending the week fifth.

It might be more difficult to overlook the missed cuts in 2019 and 2021, but when he spoke to the media ahead of this year's first round he had something to remind the reporter who suggested those failures to make the weekend coincided with the move of the tournament from May to March.

"I would have liked to have seen what I would have shot the COVID year," he countered, talking of the 2020 tournament which was cancelled after 18 holes. "I think I was 6- or 7-under the first day, so that's just lost to the ether.

"But yeah, the golf course is definitely different this way. There has been less of a premium on hitting fairways because the golf course has been softer.

"It's become more of a point-and-shoot test than a strategic test by moving back to March.

"The rough is up this week. If they don't cut it, this is the longest the rough has been since I've been coming here.

"The course should be in really good shape this year. Hopefully the rain will stay away and we'll get a really good test.

"I like the golf course. I think it's very good and it definitely requires you to have full control of your nerves, especially coming down the stretch."

Asked to describe the course in one word he said: "Precise."

After the glory of last summer, which he began with victory in the Memorial Tournament and ended with more success in first the BMW Championship and then the TOUR Championship, this year has been a little trickier.

He was second after 18 holes at the Tournament of Champions and fell back to fourth.

He led The American Express at halfway but ended the week ninth.

He was one shot back of the lead heading into the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach yet finished fourth.

And he missed makeable putts to win the Phoenix Open in regulation play and also in extra holes ahead of defeat to Scottie Scheffler.

Perhaps the frustration of those near-misses prompted the T33rd last time out in the Genesis Invitational.

"The game has been good this year," he insisted. "I feel like I've been doing a lot of really good things. I'm just going to keep sticking to the process and continue to do the things that have been working."

READ MORE: THE PLAYERS Championship: Scottie Scheffler hoping to follow same path as Duval

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