2014 U.S. Open sectional qualifying: What has happened to former phenom Patrick Cantlay?

Robert Laberge

Patrick Cantlay should be in the discussion with Jordan Spieth, Harris English, and Patrick Reed as one of America's top young golfers. But after a hyped and successful run as an amateur, he's receded off the map.

Patrick Cantlay's struggling recovery from a back injury continued during U.S. Open sectional qualifying on Monday. The 22-year-old was once thought be the top American prospect after making noise at some of the biggest events as a teenage amateur. But since turning pro, Cantlay has failed to register on the PGA Tour and has not played in a major championship since that 2012 U.S. Open at Olympic.

This year, Cantlay was attempting to qualify at Woodmont Country Club and was one of the bigger names at that sectional site just outside of Washington, D.C. But according to the Washington Post's Barry Svrluga, Cantlay called it quits after his first 18 holes and didn't bother turning in a scorecard.

Cantlay shot a 78 on the North Course at Woodmont, which isn't a total disaster, but I guess he figured there was no coming back from that on his second loop with just four spots up for grabs among 59 players.

It was at the U.S. Open that Cantlay first made a national name for himself, making the cut and coming in as the low amateur with a top 25 finish in 2011. That was just up the road from Woodmont at Congressional, and it was part of a stretch where he finished inside the top 25 in his first four appearances as a teenage amateur on the PGA Tour. One week after that impressive showing at Congressional, he shot the lowest score ever by an amateur on the PGA Tour, a 60 at the Travelers Championship.

Cantlay earned every top honor and award as a college golfer — the Haskins award as the top college golfer, the Jack Nicklaus PoY honor, the Phil Mickelson award, and the Mark McCormack medal as the top amateur in the game. At this point, you'd figure he would be in the discussion with the other young American players like Jordan Spieth, Harris English, Patrick Reed and Russell Henley. But since turning pro in June of 2012, he's failed to catch on like those other top talents and has just one pro win, the Columbia Championship last March on the Web.com Tour. His performance on that Tour was good enough to earn him a PGA Tour card this year, but he's only qualified or been healthy enough for a spot in one event, the Byron Nelson. Last year, he played in seven events and made the cut just twice. The injury first cropped up at Colonial, and apparently the only treatment is rest.

Even with the injury, the last two years have been a frustrating failure to launch, but there's obviously plenty of time ahead to find his footing at the top levels of the game. Three years ago, it just seemed he would be the 22-year-old making a run at the Memorial like Hideki Matsuyama did yesterday.

Cantlay may be gone but the leader after 18 holes at Woodmont is a familiar name, Taylor Funk, son of Terp golf legend Fred Funk. Freddie is usually the one qualifying at the top of the Woodmont sectional, but Taylor is in sole possession of the lead after the morning session. He shot a 4-under 68 and just needs to hold on in the afternoon to grab one of those four spots for Pinehurst.

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