BROOKLINE, Mass. – As his putt approached the opening on the 18th inexperienced on Sunday night, Will Zalatoris thought he was headed to an exhilarating playoff that might decide the US Open champion. All the ball needed to do was drop and Zalatoris and Matt Fitzpatrick would settle issues in a two-hole playoff.
“With about six toes to go, I believed I had it,” Zalatoris stated. He had checked his cellphone earlier and seen what Paul Azinger, the NBC golf analyst and former PGA Tour professional, had been saying. “That everybody missed that putt excessive,” Zalatoris added.
He continued, “’I used to be the closest one all day. I used to be, like, ‘thanks for the comfort prize.’ ”
Zalatoris is changing into painfully conversant in comfort prizes. Last month, he misplaced the PGA Championship to Justin Thomas in a playoff at Southern Hills in Tulsa. He completed second to Hideki Matsuyama within the 2021 Masters, simply seven months faraway from the Korn Ferry Tour. And now, one other second place end in one other main.
“It stings clearly to have three runners-up up to now in my profession in majors,” he stated. “We’re clearly doing the best issues. I’d pay some huge cash for about an inch and a half, and I’d in all probability be a three-time main champion at this level. We’ll simply hold doing what we’re doing. ”
Zalatoris can look to the good Ben Hogan for historic comparability. Hogan was repeatedly labeled a bridesmaid for his incapacity to win a significant all through the early and mid Nineteen Forties. He misplaced a playoff to Byron Nelson on the 1942 Masters after main by three pictures. He misplaced an opportunity at a playoff within the 1946 Masters when he three-putted from 12 toes, lacking a 30-inch putt.
“It simply wasn’t my time to win,” Hogan informed The New York Times. “However, there’s one other yr coming.” Two months later, on the US Open exterior Cleveland, he once more three-putted on the 72nd gap, lacking one other brief putt and falling out of a playoff gained by Lloyd Mangrum. But later that yr, he gained the PGA Championship, the primary of his 9 majors.
The distinction is that in contrast to Hogan, who had established himself as one of many sport’s premier gamers by constantly successful different tournaments, Zalatoris continues to be searching for his first victory on the PGA Tour. The consensus is that Zalatoris’s placing – significantly the brief putt – is his Achilles’ heel. Though he putted comparatively nicely on the Country Club – till he missed that birdie on the final gap within the ultimate spherical – he entered the event ranked a hundred and sixtieth on the tour in placing.
Asked what he thought when he noticed Zalatoris line up a putt, Collin Morikawa stated, “I pray for him. I imply, look, I’m not going to beat across the bush. I’ve stated it since faculty, something exterior of that 8- to 10-foot zone, I imply, it is as clean as anybody else’s stroke. ”
And within 10 toes?
“We’ve seen some squirrelly putts,” Morikawa stated. “Not that I’m one of the best putter and I’ve had that little squirreliness too, however I believe all of us sort of get on our toes after we see it.”
Zalatoris had no bother successful earlier than he arrived on the PGA Tour. He gained the 2014 US Junior Amateur championship. At Wake Forest, he was an All-American and ACC Player of the Year. He twice gained the Trans-Mississippi Amateur championship. He was on the victorious 2017 US Walker Cup group, which additionally featured Scottie Scheffler, who tied with Zalatoris for second place on Sunday, and Morikawa, who completed tied for fifth.
In addition to the three profession second-place finishes on the majors, Zalatoris this yr has completed second to Luke List in a playoff on the Farmers Insurance Open. He tied for sixth on the Masters, fourth on the Zurich Classic and fifth on the Memorial Tournament.
His world rating has climbed to twelfth and he’s ranked eighth within the FedEx Cup standings. No golfer ranked that top or increased has executed so with out not less than one victory.
Sunday’s end result on the Country Club was Zalatoris’s seventh top-10 end in 12 occasions this yr. He has completed within the prime 10 in six of the eight majors during which he has performed. It is a formidable document – minus a obvious gap, or three.
“It’s simply little issues,” stated Zalatoris, who turns 26 in August. “It’s not the identical factor at each single one. We’re speaking inches. It’s not like I completed runner-up by 4 or 5 just a few instances. It’s been one for all three. So I’ve simply received to maintain doing what I’m doing. I’ve received to maintain knocking on the door as a result of ultimately – like I stated earlier, the consolation stage is there. ”
After Zalatoris had dissected his spherical and his ongoing battle to lastly crack the winner’s circle, he obtained a parting present from the United States Golf Association: a silver medal for coming in second.