PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Patrick Cantlay would rather ask questions than answer them.
He has plenty to say, and there is no shortage of fascinating life stories for him to share. The No. 1 amateur in the world once shot 60 on the PGA Tour between his freshman and sophomore years at UCLA, but his career was derailed by a back injury that kept Cantlay out of golf for the better part of three years.
While he was out of golf, he watched his best friend and caddie, Chris Roth, get struck and killed by a car as they walked the streets of Newport Beach.
It was during so much pain and turmoil that Cantlay spent time with older members at Virginia Country Club, his home club in Long Beach. Mostly, he listened. And it helps explain now why Cantlay is at ease equally with college friends, tour players and corporate leaders.
“I read a fair amount. I’m not trying to say I’m an expert, but I try to stay informed,” Cantlay said. “Mostly, I’m curious. I like being able to ask tough questions, to learn from someone who knows more than me. One of the best pieces of advice I got was from one of my older friends. He said every conversation you’re in, the person you’re talking to probably knows something more than you know about it. There’s at least one subject he knows better than you.
“A lot of people know a lot more about a lot of things,” he said. “And they’re usually excited about passing along that knowledge.”
It was that inquisitive nature and the ability to listen that paid off in other ways.
Cantlay showed up at Kapalua for the Sentry Tournament of Champions with a cap that had “Marcus by Goldman Sachs” written across the top. He signed a deal with year with Marcus, which offers a high-yield online savings account, unsecured personal loans with no fees and a fixed rate and a mobile banking app, among other things.
It’s the first time Goldman Sachs, which dates to 1869, has been involved in the PGA Tour.
The relationship with Cantlay goes back a couple of years to the Seminole Pro-Member in Florida, which features a field of PGA Tour players most tournaments would love to have. Cantlay says PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan put him in contact with Mark Flaherty, a Seminole member who was on the board at Goldman Sachs.
“He’s a good guy, very smart. We talked a little bit about finances and investments, and he’s been a good sounding board for me for a lot of things, professionally and personally,” Cantlay said. “He fills in the picture more than I was thinking.
“If your eyes and ears are open and you’re playing professional golf, you can meet some cool people,” he said. “Not only cool and successful, but somebody you really enjoy spending time with, who can be lifelong friends.”
Marcus launched in the fall of 2016 — Cantlay was four months away from attempting another return from his back injury at that point — and began looking to market itself as Goldman Sachs’ first entry into the consumer business market.
Golf delivers the demographic ideal Marcus by Goldman Sachs wanted. Cantlay became the vehicle.
“We were fortunate enough to meet Patrick, and after meeting him, it was the perfect opportunity to get involved in the sport,” said Dustin Cohn, the head of brand marketing for the Consumer and Investment Management division of Goldman Sachs. “He asked a lot of great questions, being genuinely committed not just to being a paid spokesman, but being a customer. … He’s not one to slap a logo on his hat and call it a day.”
Flaherty, meanwhile, was appointed to the PGA Tour board of directors last month.
Those relationships — or the opportunity for them — are everywhere this week at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. The amateur field has its share of celebrities from the world sports and entertainment, along with the CEOs of some of the biggest companies in the country.
As Geoff Ogilvy once said about the corporate involvement at Pebble, “We just entertain. They add to the economy.”
Pebble takes on a special significance to Cantlay for his golf. It was where he returned — this time for good — three years ago from the temporary pain of a stress fracture in his back and the permanent pain of watching his best friend die right in front of him.
Two tournaments into his return, he was runner-up at the Valspar Championship. Cantlay won later that year in 2017 in Las Vegas with a calculated risk and a bold play with a 4-iron in a three-man playoff. He won again last year at the Memorial by closing with a 64, the lowest final round by the winner in tournament history.
He was at No. 1,866 in the world ranking when he came back at Pebble three years ago.
He returns this year at No. 7.
Cantlay is where he always thought he would be, without knowing the significant life changes along the way.
The player who prefers to ask the questions paused when he had one thrown his way.
Why should someone be a fan of his?
There is a no-nonsense side to Cantlay. He doesn’t fritter away his time on social media. He is an old soul at 27, and he has been more than most at any age.
“Everybody has obstacles that come up,” he said. “I’ve overcome some pretty big obstacles. I’m living my dream, doing everything in my power to be the best in the world. Everyone enjoys the pursuit of excellence. I guess that’s the biggest reason.”