Ryder Cup

Wyndham Clark's story on how he motivated Patrick Cantlay at the Ryder Cup explains a LOT

February 01, 2024
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Patrick Smith

As Patrick Cantlay poured in birdie after birdie on Saturday at the Ryder Cup, the prevailing thought was that he was spurred on by the European crowd, which had caught wind of the "HatGate" saga. Turns out, Cantlay was motivated by something entirely different that afternoon in Italy: a bet with his playing partner, Wyndham Clark.

Heading into the afternoon fourball session, the United State squad trailed 9.5-2.5, what turned out to be an insurmountable deficit. Still, U.S. captain Zach Johnson attempted to shake things up, breaking up the duo of Cantlay and good buddy Xander Schauffele and putting Cantlay with American rookie Wyndham Clark. Clark assumed he'd be playing alongside Max Homa, with whom he halved their only match together in Friday fourballs against Robert MacIntyre and Justin Rose.  

"Max and I played awesome in that match," Clark told Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz on the Subpar podcast. "And they go, 'hey, you're playing with Pat,' an I was like, whoa, total curveball, kind of threw me off my game a bit."

While warming up on the range, Clark could tell Cantlay was "pissed." Team morale was at an all-time low, which is to be expected when you're in a seven-point hole. Clark knew exactly what buttons to push in that moment. 

"I turned to Pat and I said, 'hey Pat, I've played money games with you, and you're literally the best in money games,'" the reigning U.S. Open champion said. "I've never taken money from you.

"So I said, first one to five birdies is for $5,000. Every birdie after that is another $1,000. So I said, 'I hope you take me for all the money I got.' And he [Cantlay] goes 'Alright, I like that.' And Joe LaCava [Cantlay's caddie] looked at me and goes 'nice job.'"

As they made their way to the first tee, Clark wanted to remind Cantlay of the stakes. Just as he began to, Cantlay interrupted him and said "I know the deal." At that point, Clark knew he was about to lose some serious coin.

Cantlay's birdies on 16, 17 and 18 helped he and Clark win their match 1 up over Matt Fitzpatrick and Rory McIlroy, which led to the most fiery moments of the entire week on the 18th green (and in the parking lot afterward). The whole time, we all thought Cantlay was responding to the rumor that he wasn't wearing a hat out of protest that the players do not get paid to play in the Ryder Cup. Turns out, he just really wanted to take his own partner's money.