Patrick Cantlay birdied his last four holes to break out of a crowd and take a two-shot lead over Robert Streb in the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head, South Carolina, on Friday.
Cantlay defied winds gusting up to 48km/h to finish strong at Harbour Town Golf Links, punctuating his round with a 20-foot birdie putt at the last.
The FedEx Cup champion’s seven birdies on the day also included a 30-footer at the 4th.
“Obviously that’s a dream finish,” Cantlay said. “I finally rolled in some putts, and that was really nice to see going into the weekend.
“It was a tough day out there, and I figured any round under par or around even par would be a win for today. So, finishing how I did puts me in a great spot for the weekend.”
Cantlay was five under for the tournament – trailing a big group on six under – after his third bogey of the day at the 14th.
He rapped in a 13-foot birdie at 15, a 10-footer at 16 and an eight-footer at 17 before his final flourish.
He said the hardest part of dealing with the wind was the unpredictability.
“It wasn’t blowing in a consistent direction at all,” he said. “So you have to kind of wait for your wind. Sometimes you hit good shots and they don’t go to good places on days like today.
“You just have to accept that and realise you’re doing the best you can and kind of be easier on yourself than normal.
“I thought I kept in a good frame of mind and really stuck to my game plan and just tried to focus as hard as I could.”
Streb opened his round with a watery bogey at the 10th hole, but he drained a 38-footer for birdie at 14 and sank an 11-foot birdie at 15 to get things going, then birdied three more holes coming in despite finding the winds “pretty tough”.
“Getting it around in the wind was really good for me,” Streb said. “It’s one of those things, you catch a bad gust here or there, you can end up in a pretty bad spot without hitting a bad ball. It felt like I got lucky. Most of the time I got the wind I was hoping for and made some putts.”
South African Erik van Rooyen and Americans Cameron Tringale, Cameron Young, Aaron Wise and Joel Dahmen shared third on six under 136.
Tringale had four birdies without a bogey in his 67. Van Rooyen and Dahmen also posted 67s while Wise shot a 68 and overnight leader Young signed for a two-over 73.
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