BROOKLINE, Mass. — As his putt approached the outlet on the 18th inexperienced on Sunday night, Will Zalatoris thought he was headed to an exhilarating playoff that will 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 mentioned. He had checked his telephone 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 to this point in my profession in majors,” he mentioned. “We’re clearly doing the precise issues. I’d pay some huge cash for about an inch and a half, and I ‘d most likely be a three-time main champion at this level. We’ll simply maintain doing what we’re doing.”
Zalatoris can look to the good Ben Hogan for historic comparability. Hogan was repeatedly labeled a bridesmaid for his incapability to win a serious all through the early and mid Forties. He misplaced a playoff to Byron Nelson on the 1942 Masters after main by three photographs. 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 advised The New York Times. “However, there’s one other 12 months coming.” Two months later, on the US Open outdoors Cleveland, he once more three-putted on the 72nd gap, lacking Another brief putt and falling out of a playoff received by Lloyd Mangrum. But later that 12 months, he received the PGA Championship, the primary of his 9 majors.
The distinction is that not like Hogan, who had established himself as one of many recreation’s premier gamers by persistently profitable 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 properly on the Country Club — till he missed that birdie on the final gap within the remaining spherical — he entered the match ranked a hundred and sixtieth on the tour in placing.
Asked what he thought when he noticed Zalatoris line up a putt, Collin Morikawa mentioned, “I pray for him. I imply, look, I’m not going to beat across the bush. I’ve mentioned it since school, something outdoors of that 8- to 10-foot zone, I imply, it is as easy as anybody else’s stroke.”
And within 10 toes?
“We’ve seen some squirrelly putts,” Morikawa mentioned. “Not that I’m the very best putter and I’ve had that little squirreliness too, however I feel all of us type of get on our toes once we see it.”
Zalatoris had no hassle profitable earlier than he arrived on the PGA Tour. He received the 2014 US Junior Amateur championship. At Wake Forest, he was an All-American and ACC Player of the Year. He twice received the Trans-Mississippi Amateur championship. He was on the victorious 2017 US Walker Cup crew, which additionally featured Scottie Scheffler, who tied with Zalatoris for second place on Sunday, and Morikawa, who completed tied for fifth.
This season, along with three second-place finishes on the majors, Zalatoris 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 greater has accomplished so with out at the very least one victory.
Sunday’s consequence on the Country Club was Zalatoris’s seventh top-10 end in 12 occasions this 12 months. He has completed within the prime 10 in six of the eight majors wherein he has performed. It is a formidable report — minus a obtrusive gap, or three.
“It’s simply little issues,” mentioned 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 a couple of 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 mentioned earlier, the consolation degree 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.