It wasn’t to be for Will Zalatoris at the US PGA Championship on Sunday but despite being downed by Justin Thomas in extra holes, the 25-year old feels far from out when it comes to golf’s four Majors.
For all the criticism of his putting stroke throughout the broadcast from Southern Hills, it was two gutsy eight footers, one for birdie on 17 and the other for par on 18, that ultimately gave Zalatoris a chance in the playoff.
Unfortunately he came up against an inspired Thomas in extra holes but despite missing out on another Major title, Zalatoris was at ease in defeat, comforted and convinced that his day will soon come at golf’s biggest events.
“Yeah, you know, I can do it. Obviously I’m pretty close,” said Zalatoris who’s recorded five top-10s from his eight Major starts.
“I didn’t have my best stuff yesterday, which ultimately was kind of the difference. I battled like crazy today, especially after on 6 where you caught a random gust downwind and having to save a bogey off the cart path. I’m close and I’m super motivated, but we’ll get one soon.”
Zalatoris’ rise through golf’s ranks has been nothing short of meteoric since winning his PGA Tour card in 2021. A product of the secondary Korn Ferry Tour, Zalatoris has moved to 14th in golf’s world rankings but far from concerned with the summit of those charts, the wiry but big-hitting former Wake Forest star’s motivation remains the major titles as his relentless push continues towards winning one of men’s golf’s big four.
“We’ve only got four a year and I think it’s been a dream of mine to win a major since I was a little kid,” he said.
“You know, it’s never going to be world No. 1 or anything like that. It’s been to win a major. I grew up when I lived in San Francisco, my dad was a member at California Golf Club, and there’s a shrine for Ken Venturi in there with his U.S. Open trophy. There’s some of Ben Hogan’s stuff in there.
“Being able to see that at a young age, and say, ‘hey, I want to get one of those’. Seeing Jordan [Spieth] do it when I was in college and obviously Scottie [Scheffler] now.
“You know, I think playing in these events, you need a lot of results, and at times you may be out of it but I know for sure I’ll get one.”
As Zalatoris points out, he was fighting his game all weekend with rounds of 73 and 71 at Southern Hills but despite the optics around his putting stroke, when he needed it most, it delivered with clutch putts on the 71st and 72nd holes. He might not have a main tour win on his CV yet, never mind a Major, but the Texas resident is adamant that he lives for the big occasion and he’ll keep putting himself in position to convert one in the future.
“Yeah, I love it. If I didn’t like it, I would probably need to find a new career,” he said.
“It’s the same thing, when people say, ‘man, what’s it like to play in front of the crowds?’ and the joke I tell people is, ‘don’t forget about the 10 million at home!’
“Even going through COVID with no fans, still, it the same pressure. I think it’s something every kid obviously when they are on the putting green, the last putt’s to win the Masters, whatever it is, PGA Championship, and that’s what you practice for.
“That’s why at home, you know, when I’m playing with guys that obviously are Dallas, we’re playing money games — of course I want to beat them and I want to get in their pocket but it’s not about the money. It’s about hitting shots under pressure that will resemble to come out here just to make this a little bit easier.
“But I love it. This is what you live for.”
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