Patrick Cantlay and Jack Nicklaus go back a long way, to when a young Cantlay earned the award named after the great man for the best player on the American college circuit eight years ago.
Nicklaus has continued to look out for his protege, watching as Cantlay set a new record for the most weeks as world amateur No1, earned his first professional win in 2013 and then, two years ago, claimed a maiden PGA Tour title.
He had been through a little bit of a lull since then; sometimes players can find it difficult to get over the line after that first one even if, like Cantlay, they have a great swing, good temperament and all the attributes needed to succeed.
So when Nicklaus caught up with Cantlay at his own event, the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village, on Friday morning he gave him some advice. It was to go out and enjoy golf – similar to Walter Hagan’s famous line about remembering to “stop and smell the flowers”.
The pep talk worked, as Cantlay emerged from a high-quality field to win on Sunday, carding a magnificent 64 for a two-shot victory.
felt sorry for Martin Kaymer, who started the final day with a two-shot lead and extended his advantage with a good start.
The German former US PGA and US Open champion hasn’t won for almost five years but I don’t think that had any bearing on the result. Kaymer didn’t really put a foot wrong and when someone else shoots 64 on a course as difficult as that it is very hard to beat them.
Kaymer looks on course to end his drought sooner rather than later, though. He is such a strong player with a very repetitive action who now seems to be swinging very well again. I thought he was one to watch at the US PGA last month and he will be at the US Open next week too.
The day belonged to Cantlay, however, who became the only man other than Tiger Woods to win the Jack Nicklaus Award and the Memorial Tournament.
One man stringing wins together this season is 22-year-old Italian Guido Migliozzi, who added his second European Tour title of the year at the Belgian Knockout.
Migliozzi is strong, hits it a mile and clearly loves playing. This event, which combines strokeplay and match play, involves more golf than most tournaments and more pressure, but he won it well.
His emergence owes something to Francesco Molinari’s success. When someone like him starts winning Majors it lifts other players from the country, especially the younger ones.
Migliozzi came through qualifying school, having played mostly on the Alps and Challenge Tours last year, while all three other semi-finalists are members of the Challenge Tour and playing in Belgium as guests.
It’s testament to the depth of quality at that level.