Patrick Cantlay has been pretty quiet of late. He's gone six straight starts without a top-10 finish, and was notably absent from the Tour Championship for the first time since 2016. But perhaps all he needed to jump-start his recent form was a return to Las Vegas.
Cantlay broke through for his first PGA Tour victory at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in 2017, and he hasn't slowed down since. He finished second behind Bryson DeChambeau as the defending champ, then lost a playoff last year to Kevin Na. He's back at it again this week, opening with an 8-under 63 that left him one shot behind DeChambeau after the first round.
Shriners Hospitals for Children Open: Full-field scores | Full coverage
"I like this course. It sets up for a right-to-left shot on a lot of holes, which is my preferred shot," Cantlay said. "So I'm just playing from the fairway a lot and it feels like there is lots of green lights, lots of opportunities to hit it as close as I can. I like the golf course and I've played well here."
Cantlay told reporters early in the week that he especially savors the emphasis on straight driving at TPC Summerlin, where accurate length off the tee can provide ample scoring opportunities. He made nine birdies in the opening round, including six on the front nine, and capped his afternoon with a 13-foot make on No. 18 to join four other players in a tie for second.
While winds are expected to pick up over the weekend, Cantlay still estimates that it'll take at least 20 under to win on the par-71 layout. There's work to be done to reach that lofty total, but he's pleased with his start as he looks to notch his first top-10 finish since the Workday Charity Open in July – and potentially extend his nearly pristine record in Las Vegas.
"I just try to give myself as many opportunities as I can. The birdies will come out here if you're patient and play smart," Cantlay said. "Today they did, so hopefully the next three days are more of the same."