Sunday at the BMW Championship already had the natural tension any head-to-head showdown fosters in the final round of a golf tournament. Patrick Cantlay and Bryson DeChambeau had been matching each other birdie-for-birdie since Saturday’s third round, and when they’d separated from the rest of the field on the back nine Sunday. The winner was obviously going to be one of the two, Cantlay ultimately—and impressively—emerging the champ after six playoff holes.
But on the 14th hole in regulation, that tension seemingly took on a new dimension. DeChambeau, one stroke ahead of Cantlay at the time at 27 under, was getting set to play his approach shot on the par 4, his opponent already up on the green 21½ feet from the hole. As DeChambeau stood over the ball about ready to hit, he suddenly pulled back and spoke:
“Patrick can you stop walking.”
Apparently out of the corner of DeChambeau’s eye he saw Cantlay and it caused him to pause.
DeChambeau addressed his ball again and hit his approach, his ball failing to get to the top ridge of the green, leaving him a 37 feet for birdie.
Immediately, NBC commentators Dan Hicks and Paul Azinger noted the exchange, suggesting the directive was highly unusual and it actually might have thrown DeChambeau, explaining the poor approach shot.
“I’m surprised he called Patrick out like that,” Azinger said. “That can break your own concentration when you call a guy out like that.”
When Cantlay rolled in his birdie putt to regain a share of the lead, Azinger returned to the comments.
“He says, ‘Don’t call me out every again.’ ” And later Azinger noted: “Well, I think it’s personal now.”
Azinger continued lean into that thought throughout the rest of the tournament.
But how much did the comment impact the two players, and was there any actual friction between the two afterward? DeChambeau did not talk to the press after the round, so it’s unclear what he was thinking.
When asked about the exchange in his post-round press conference, Cantlay was quick to suggest it was a non-issue.
“He just wanted me to stop walking,” Cantlay said. “We had just been told by the rules officials to kind of speed up, and I’m not always the fastest walker, so I was trying to get ahead and do my part. No big deal. That stuff kind of happens every once in a while out here.”