Bad backs are deadly in golf, so it's especially gratifying see young sufferer Patrick Cantlay return from the depths of physical and mental struggles to get his first PGA Tour win.
Dave Shedloski filed a nice read from Las Vegas where the 25-year-old won the Shriners Hospitals Open For Children in a playoff over Alex Cjeka and Whee Kim. The former college player of the year and longtime top-ranked amateur who lost in the U.S. Amateur final turned pro in promising fashion.
Meticulous, stoic, and adroit, Cantlay heralded his potential a year earlier in the same event when he fired a second-round 60 at TPC River Highlands, the lowest score ever recorded by an amateur in a PGA Tour event, in grabbing the 36-hole lead. That came after finishing T-21 at the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional.
The kid had the skills and the head for the game. Just not the back.
Cantlay first was sidelined after withdrawing from the 2013 Colonial with a back injury that turned out to be a stress fracture in his L5 vertebrae. Somehow, he came back in the fall for one start in the Web.com Tour Finals, finishing second in the Hotel Fitness Championship to retain his PGA Tour card.
In the next three years he would make just six starts.
The PGA Tour's highlights: