Will Zalatoris wins first career PGA Tour event after thrilling three-hole playoff

By Sports Desk August 14, 2022

Will Zalatoris held his nerve for a clutch par putt on the 72nd hole to force a playoff at the FedEx St. Jude Championship, setting up a dramatic three-hole showdown where he defeated Sepp Straka to claim his first career PGA Tour win.

Straka came into Sunday's final round at 12 under – one stroke off leader J.J. Spaun – while Zalatoris was one shot further back at 11 under with Cameron Smith. When Spaun imploded, going on to shoot Sunday's worst round with a 78, and Smith was handed a two-stroke penalty prior to his round for an illegal drop earlier in the tournament, the field fell away and left just Straka and Zalatoris at the top.

Zalatoris continued to shed his reputation as a poor putter, and he did so in the biggest moments, draining a must-make 10-footer on the last hole to finish his tournament at 15 under, where he and Straka were three strokes clear of the pack – and the playoff was anything but boring.

On the first playoff hole – the 18th, which was playing as the toughest hole on the course – both players reached the green in regulation, and while neither were in true birdie range, Zalatoris had a significantly longer distance to cover. But he showed why he was ranked number one for lag putting this week and was able to tap-in from a foot to head to the second hole.

Replaying the 18th, Zalatoris' tee shot hit the cart path, seemingly handing Straka the tournament, but then Straka put his tee shot so close to the water's edge that he opted to take the penalty instead of trying to hack one out with a foot in the water.

Straka pulled off what would usually be a title-winning approach shot, taking an aggressive line and landing six feet from the hole, but due to the penalty stroke it allowed Zalatoris to chip back out into the fairway and bring his approach to just over 10 feet, where he would sink another incredibly gutsy putt to extend things to a third playoff hole.

After losing two playoffs this season, Zalatoris would have felt the trophy slipping out of his hands when his tee shot on the par-three 11th hole found the rock wall on the fringe of the water. He was not in the water, but the shot was unplayable, meaning a par would give Straka the win – and then Straka landed in the water.

The Austrian's next shot sailed over the green into the bunker, while Zalatoris' second try at his approach was perfect, giving himself another seven-footer for the win, and he made no mistakes.

With the win, Zalatoris avoided becoming the player with the most prize money in a season without a victory, raising his season earnings to over $9million in the process with his $2.7m winner's cheque.

American duo Lucas Glover and Brian Harman finished tied for third at 12 under, while Spain's Jon Rahm, England's Matt Fitzpatrick and Australia's Adam Scott were part of the seven-man group tied for fifth at 11 under.

After his two-stroke penalty, Cameron Smith finished at nine under with rising star Joo-hyung 'Tom' Kim, with Viktor Hovland at eight under, and Wyndham Clark snuck into the next round of the playoffs as his seven under finish moved him up to exactly 70th in the FedEx Cup standings.

Related items

  • PGA Tour winner Murray dies aged 30 after withdrawing from Charles Schwab Challenge PGA Tour winner Murray dies aged 30 after withdrawing from Charles Schwab Challenge

    PGA Tour winner Grayson Murray has died aged 30 after withdrawing from the Charles Schwab Challenge.

    The two-time Tour champion withdrew from the tournament in Fort Worth, Texas during his second round on Friday due to illness.

    Murray, who won his second title at this year's Sony Open in Hawaii, passed away on Saturday as the Tour confirmed the news through an organisational statement.

    "We were devastated to learn – and are heartbroken to share – that Grayson Murray passed away this morning. I am at a loss for words," wrote Tour commissioner Jay Monahan.

  • Zandre Roye & Mattea Issa in the lead at National Amateur Golf Champs Zandre Roye & Mattea Issa in the lead at National Amateur Golf Champs

    Zandre Roye and Mattea Issa both had a three-point lead over their nearest competitors at the end of the first round of the Jamaica Golf Association's National Amateur Golf Championship being played at the Caymanas Golf Club in St. Catherine.

    Roye scored even par 72 for the round to lead former national champion and club mate Oshae Haye and Jack Stein by three strokes after they both scored three over par 75.

    They were being tracked closely by young guns Rocco Lopez and Trey Williams who are just two strokes back on five over par 77.

    Roye had a good front nine and was up by two between holes six to eight after copping two birdies on holes two and six but bogeyed number eight to close on one under par 35.

    He started the back nine by dropping a shot on hole number 10 but recovered on holes 11 and 12 to be up by two shots between 12 to 15 but dropped a shot on 16 and 17, then parred 18 to close the back nine on one over par 37.

    His four birdies were cancelled out by the four bogeys which he scored in the round. That makes him the only golfer to go into day two with a clean sheet to build on.

    Junior player Mattea Issa scored nine over par 81 to take the lead over many time national champion Jodi Munn-Barrow who ended the first round on twelve over par 84. Alessandra Coe, another junior player was just two shots behind on 14 over par 86.

    Mattea Issa

    Both Roye and Issa were happy with their first round performance under hot and windy conditions on the course, while looking forward to extending their lead at the end of the second round of the three-round championship.

    The second round will get under way at 8:30 am on Saturday morning.

    There will be a new male and female champion this year as William Knibbs and Michelle McCreath who are the 2023 champions did not tee off on Friday and will not feature in the championship this year.

     

  • PGA Championship: Scheffler unsure if arrest a factor after 'hectic' weekend PGA Championship: Scheffler unsure if arrest a factor after 'hectic' weekend

    Scottie Scheffler is unsure whether his arrest on Friday was a factor after a disappointing Saturday led to him finishing tied for eighth at a "hectic" PGA Championship.

    On Friday, world number one Scheffler was arrested outside Valhalla Golf Club ahead of his second round.

    It subsequently emerged that he faces charges of second-degree assault of a police officer, third-degree criminal mischief, reckless driving, and disregarding traffic signals from an officer directing traffic.

    Scheffler shot a five-under 66 in the delayed second round, one stroke better than his first round, but a two-over 73 on Saturday all but ended his hopes of back-to-back major wins.

    Xander Schauffele ultimately claimed his first major title at 21 under, eight shots ahead of Scheffler.

    Speaking after Sunday's final round, in which a run of seven birdies in 10 holes helped him card a 65, Scheffler said he was proud of the way he finished the event. 

    "I think 'hectic' would probably be a good description," Scheffler said. "I'm fairly tired, definitely a lot more tired than I have been finishing some other tournaments.

    "I'm proud of today how we went out there and fought. I got off to a slow start and I was able to get some momentum and post a good round.

    "Yesterday obviously was quite frustrating and a bit of a different day, but overall proud of how I fought this week. Was fortunate to be out here competing, doing what I love."

    Asked whether his arrest had an impact on his performance, Scheffler said: "It's hard to tell. I think I would attribute it mostly to a bad day. 

    "I think when you come out here to compete, you're doing what you can throughout the course of the round to post a score and I wasn't able to get that done yesterday.

    "Did I feel like myself? Absolutely not. Was my warm-up the way it usually is and the distractions the way they normally are? Absolutely not. 

    "I got arrested Friday morning and I showed up here and played a good round of golf. So I've been good throughout my career at leaving the off-course distractions at home and keeping a pretty quiet personal life.

    "I'm not going to sit here and say that I played poorly yesterday because of what happened on Friday. I just had a bad day out on the course and was proud of how I came out here and bounced back today."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.