Pat Cantlay Partners with First Responders, Uses Hat to Raise Awareness

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KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) — Patrick Cantlay is back to competition for the first time since the Ryder Cup, and the attention again is on his hat.

Yes, he’s wearing one.

This cap features a logo for the First Responders Children’s Foundation. Cantlay has a new partnership to raise awareness and money to support first responder families across the country.

It starts with a purpose. Cantlay and the FRCF this week are launching a fundraising campaign to aid first responder families impacted by the deadly wildfires across Hawaii in August, which obliterated a historic part of Lahaina and killed 100 people.

The Sentry starts Thursday at Kapalua, about 10 miles from Lahaina.

From the partnership will come the Patrick Cantlay Scholarship, which will award four-year scholarships to a cohort of first responder children who demonstrate business acumen and aspire to become entrepreneurs. The scholarship program starts this fall.

When he began his foundation, Cantlay wanted the key beneficiaries to be junior golf and support for first responders.

“Supporting first responders, their families and the communities they serve is very important to me,” Cantlay said. “We look forward to spotlighting the vital contributions of first responders while also tending to the unique challenges that their children and families experience.”

First Responders Children’s Foundation was founded more than 22 years ago in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in which 800 children lost a parent who was a first responder. The foundation has awarded 1,300 scholarships totaling more than $3.8 million.

When last seen on the golf course, Cantlay came under severe scrutiny for not wearing a hat at the Ryder Cup. European fans at Marco Simone read an unsubstantiated report that he went hatless to protest not getting paid to play.

Cantlay has denied the report by saying the hat didn’t fit right, pointing out he didn’t wear one at Whistling Straits in 2021, either.

He added one other comment in a recent interview with Golf.com.

“If I was to make a protest, everyone would know what I’m protesting, why I’m protesting and how I’m protesting,” Cantlay said with a grin. “I would never, never do a silent protest.”

PGA TOUR PRIZE MONEY

The top 50 players in the FedEx Cup last year are assured of playing eight signature events with a $20 million purse and fields of no more than about 80 players.

The others are not exactly applying for food stamps.

On the first day of the new year, the PGA Tour finally released prize money for its 35 tournaments in runs from The Sentry through the Tour Championship. The total prize money is $402.4 million, which does not include the four majors.

The $20 million purses are the eight signature events and two FedEx Cup playoff events. The Players Championship is $25 million. The five opposite-field events have $4 million purses.

Those 18 “regular” tournaments have an average purse of $8.74 million.

The majors typically do not announce their prize funds until the week of the championship. Last year, the Masters was $18 million, the PGA Championship was $17.5 million, the U.S. Open was $20 million and the British Open was $16.5 million.

That puts total prize money of at least $474.4 million. And that doesn’t include the $100 million FedEx Cup bonus pool ($25 million to the winner), the $40 million for the Comcast Business Tour Top 10 or $50 million for the Player Impact Program.

GWAA AWARDS

The PGA Tour announces its player of the year on Wednesday. The Golf Writers Association of America on Tuesday gave its award to Masters champion Jon Rahm.

The GWAA had far easier choices for its female player and senior player awards. Those went to double major winner Lilia Vu (72% of the vote). Steve Stricker somehow received only 80% of the vote after a year in which three of his six PGA Tour Champions wins were majors and he didn’t play the postseason yet still won the Charles Schwab Cup.

Rahm received 49% of the vote on a ballot that included FedEx Cup champion and three-time winner Viktor Hovland (33%) and Scottie Scheffler, The Players Championship and Phoenix Open winner who won the money title and Vardon Trophy for the lowest adjusted scoring average. Scheffler got 18% of the vote.

Rahm won four times last year, including the Masters. Neither he nor Scheffler won the rest of the year.

Vu also won four times, including majors at the Chevron Championship and Women’s British Open, ending the year at No. 1 in the world. She beat out Women’s PGA champion Ruoning Yin and Evian Championship winner Celine Boutier.

Stricker, whose $3.96 million in earnings set a PGA Tour Champions record, easily won over Bernhard Langer and Stephen Ames.

HAWAII SWING

The PGA Tour has three $20 million signature events in seven weeks to start the year, and there was concern it might deplete fields at other tournaments, particularly the Sony Open, the middle event.

The Sony Open on Oahu would appear to be doing fine.

The early commitment list has 30 of the 59 players from Kapalua, and British Open champion Brian Harman also is expected to play. The others include Ludvig Aberg, former U.S. Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick, Justin Rose and Lucas Glover.

It would appear to be a choice between Honolulu and the California desert, as The American Express has a top-heavy field that includes Scottie Scheffler and Patrick Cantlay.

The most ambitious of the group would be Harman and Tyrrell Hatton, both playing at Kapalua and Sony, and then heading straight for the European tour’s Dubai Desert Classic.

SCHEFFLER’S TURN

Scottie Scheffler starts the new year at No. 1 in the world ranking. The question is how long he can stay there knowing that history is not on his side.

Not since Tiger Woods in 2009 has anyone stayed at No. 1 for an entire calendar year (Woods also did that seven other years). The only other players to stay No. 1 for the entire year since the ranking began in 1986 were Nick Faldo (1993) and Greg Norman (1996).

Scheffler starts with a healthy lead — his points average is 10.03, with Rory McIlroy behind him at 8.63 — which guarantees nothing.

Dustin Johnson had larger leads than Scheffler to start 2018 and 2021 and had lost the No. 1 ranking by summer in both years.

McIlroy was flying high in 2015 until Jordan Spieth won two majors, McIlroy injured his knee playing soccer and Spieth overtook him. In 2013, McIlroy had an enormous lead — his average was more than 4.5 points greater than Luke Donald — when Woods won at Torrey Pines, Doral and Bay Hill and returned to No. 1.

DIVOTS

Never mind the dozen or so players at Kapalua for the first time for The Sentry. Caddies Joe LaCava and Tommy Lamb have reason to feel like newcomers. LaCava last caddied at Kapalua for 2004 when he was with Fred Couples. Lamb hasn’t been to Kapalua since 2002 when he was caddying for Brad Faxon, who won the Sony Open the previous year. … Cameron Young is taking another journey to the Middle East, this time part of an increasingly strong field in the Dubai Desert Classic.

STAT OF THE WEEK

Fourteen players in the 59-man field at The Sentry have yet to qualify for the Masters.

FINAL WORD

“I come from the caddie ranks. I come from a cotton farm. I’m not an educated guy. I took it out of the ground. I became good at this game because I had no options.” — Six-time major champion Lee Trevino.

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AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf

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