Remember when it looked like Scotty Scheffle would never win on the PGA Tour?
In each of his first two seasons on tour, Scheffler looked like one of the most talented players in the world, grinding out 25 after top 25, 29 of which came in his first 52 games. No matter how hard Scheffle tried, he couldn’t get his first win.
Finally, Scheffler won his first PGA Tour title at the WM Phoenix Open in February. He won three times in his next five starts, including his first major championship at the Masters. Scheffler is now ranked the No. 1 player in the world and is voted the PGA Tour Player of the Year by his peers.
Golf fans must wonder if Will Zalatoris’ first win on Sunday at the FedEx St. Jude Championship at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee will have the same effect. He moved to No. 1 in the FedEx Cup rankings at this week’s BMW Championship at Wilmington Country Club in Delaware, beating Sepp Strachan by three holes.
Zalatoris, a longtime friend of Scheffler’s, came close many times during his first two seasons on the tour, including three runners-up in the majors. Zalatoris finished second to Hideki Matsuyama at the 2021 Masters seven months after the Korn Ferry Tour.
In late January, Zalatoris lost to Luke Liszt in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. He then fell to Justin Thomas in a three-hole playoff at the PGA Championship at South Hills. At the next major, the US Open, Zalatoris finished second by 1 shot to eventual winner Matt Fitzpatrick after birdieing 14 feet on the 72nd hole.
Zalatoris had earned $6.7 million in 22 starts before last weekend, the most winless streak in PGA Tour history in a single season. He was the highest player without a PGA Tour victory at 14th in the Official World Golf Ranking.
“I mean, it’s frustrating, it’s motivating, it’s all those things,” Zalatoris told ESPN this week. “I’ve been coming all year and I think I’ve learned a lot about my game in the last month, and I think it’s something going forward. I’m really excited.”
Zalatoris carded a 1-over 71 in the first round at TPC Southwind, after three of his shots were pinned by water-soaked bunkers on the four-hole stretch. He was already 9 shots behind joint leaders JJ Spaun and Si Woo Kim after 18 holes. Looks like another week without a win. Things look bleak when his fiancee Caitlin asks Sellers what their plans are for the weekend if he loses his resolve.
“We just have to keep doing what we’re doing,” Zalatoris said after carding a 7-under 63 in the second round. “You don’t play this good often and win.”
That elusive win came Sunday, after Zalatoris finally got some good wins — literally — when he needed it most.
Will Zalatoris’ shot looks destined for water, but after several bounces on the rocks, the ball avoids the drink.
On the third playoff hole, the par-3 11th, Zalatoris thought he was dead when his tee shot started to spill straight off the green. Somehow, the ball stayed dry, but at least seven times it hit the stone wall around the 11th green, a replica of the East Island green at TPC Sawgrass. Zalatoris’ ball landed between the deep rough and the stone wall. The ball was dry but he was still in serious trouble.
All Straka needed to do was hit his tee shot to the center of the green, and he would have had a good chance at a possibly improbable victory. His tee shot followed a similar trajectory to Zalatoris’s. Straka’s ball ended up in the water. He hit his third shot into the greenside bunker and chipped it to 4 feet for a double-bogey putt.
After much discussion with his caddy, Joel Stock, Zalatoris wisely returned to the drop zone and hit a perfect wedge shot onto the green. He won the tournament with his first bogey on the back nine all week.
“I knew I wasn’t going to play the shot, but I wanted to at least look at it a little bit,” Zalatoris said. [a bogey]Come back come back. So I wanted to make sure I didn’t leave an easy chance where I could pop one on the green and get an easy 2-putt and it was simply impossible. I basically couldn’t get the club below half of the ball’s waist, the bottom half of the ball.
It may not be a coincidence that Zalatoris’ fortunes have changed since he started reading Stock in the second round on Friday. It was Stoke’s first race against Zalatoris Bag; He split with caddy Ryan Goble midway through the Wyndham Championship. Not a bad start.
Congratulations! I am happy for you! I’m glad I’m glad! Enjoy it all! pic.twitter.com/mlfRY2oYmr
— Adam Sandler (@AdamSandler) August 15, 2022
While Zalatoris was considered one of the best ball strikers in the world, his swing was at times as smooth as a Mississippi backstreet. He came into the week ranked 120th in batshit (minus-.037) and was a formidable 4-foot to 8-footer. Earlier this season, his streak was so bad that Colin Morikawa said he prayed for Zalatoris.
“I don’t beat around the bush,” Morikawa said at the US Open in June. “I’ve said since college, anything outside of the 8- to 10-foot range, I mean, it’s as smooth a stroke as anybody’s. We’ve seen some squirrely putts. It’s not that I’m the best putter and I’ve had that little shake, but I think we all fall on our toes when we see it.”
Zalatoris tried to work quickly on the green and not be like the old method.
“I tried to get a little faster,” he said. “I’ve been slow every time I’ve been in trouble. I’m a quick walker, obviously a quick talker, I do everything fast. But just being able to see the target, roll the ball over there and take it. Then accept what happens.
With the help of shortstop Josh Gregory, Zalatoris also tweaked his stance and grip. He made a 10-footer on the 72nd hole. He made 14 feet on the 11th No. 18 for the first win.
Zalatoris now believes he is one of the best importers in the world. Showed on Sunday.
“Anytime you put yourself in a debate, I think you learn something about yourself,” Zalatoris said. [to Hideki Matsuyama in 2021] It was life changing because it allowed me to play as much here and on the map as I wanted. It was a kind of confirmation that the second week in the PGA was not a blast, and the third at the US Open gave me more confidence that I can win a major, I can win here. It was just a matter of time and this was my week. “
According to ESPN Stats & Info, nine of the 15 FedEx Cup winners were in the top five in the points standings after the first playoff, including the last three since the current format began in 2019.
That means Zalatoris, Scheffler, Cameron Smith, Sam Burns and Tony Finau may have a good chance with two events left to play when the FedEx Cup playoffs move to Wilmington, Delaware this week. It will be the first PGA Tour event held in the state.
It will also be the first professional event at the Wilmington Country Club, which sits on 100 acres of land that once belonged to the du Pont family. Robert Trent Jones, Jr. The course was designed by
Justin Thomas, Patrick Rogers and Daniel Berger play the 2013 Palmer Cup on the South Course at Wilmington Country Club.
Who is in the BMW Championship field?
Lucas Glover, who finished third at the FedEx St. Jude Championship, was the biggest player to move from 121st to 34th in the FedEx Cup standings. Adam Scott rose 32 from 77th to 45th, while Andrew Putnam rose from 87th to 47th. Wyndham Clarke, the last player in the 70-man field for the BMW Championship, is up nine points.
“Honestly, I felt like my game was in a good enough place this week that I didn’t want anything,” said Scott, who finished fifth in Memphis at age 11. “It was really about getting my mind to do something and make it work. I think sometimes the hardest thing in my career at this point is to always change the mind week after week. Sometimes it’s floating on autopilot and it’s not.” I had to do it.
Anirban Lahiri, Lee Hodges, John Huh, Brendan Todd and Gary Woodland were the final players.
Cam Smith’s bad break
It was unfortunate for Smith that the PGA Tour rules official decided to watch Saturday night’s replay of the third round of the FedEx St. Jude Championship.
That official noticed that Smith hit the ball on the red penalty area line near the green on the par-3 fourth hole. Smith’s tee shot hit the green, but went into a nearby pond. At least part of the ball sits on the red line when he takes a drop.
A legal official who watched the replay brought his concerns to Chief Justice Gary Young, so they decided to settle the matter with Smith. Young met the Australian player at his clubhouse around 11.20pm on Sunday.
Cameron Smith was denied two shots on the PGA Tour after bogeying the ball on the fourth hole on Saturday.
“I thought it would be a situation where I asked Cam a question and he would talk. [me] Young said he was comfortable that the ball was out of the penalty area. So there is no turning back at that point.
Young Smith said he did not understand that the ball had to be completely out of the penalty area. Smith was assessed a 2-stroke penalty and dropped 4 shots behind leader JJ Spaun to start the final round.
Smith birdied the first hole but shot an even 70 to finish tied for 13th at 9 under. Smith, who is rumored to be heading to LIV Golf in the near future, declined to speak to reporters after his stint. He would move to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking with his victory in Memphis.
The Worst (and Best) of the Weekend
Rickie Fuller was the final player in the 125-man field for the FedEx St. Jude Championship. The struggling player had to finish at least tied for 11th to qualify for the BMW Championship.
Fowler was in good form after an opening round of 65. He shot a 1-over 71 in the second round, but entered the 18th hole at 3 under in the third round. Then the bottom fell.
Fowler hit the driver and his third shot went into the water. The green was short on the fifth shot. He needed two more chip shots and two putts to record a quintuple-bogey 9 on the hole. He tied for the worst score on a single hole in his PGA Tour career. He finished with a 2-over 72 card.
Fuller shot a 3-over 73 on Sunday to finish tied for 64th at 1 over.
At least Fowler had a sense of humor about the meltdown, even responding to Thomas’ playful digs on social media.
The next 25
The 25 Korn Ferry Tour players who earned PGA Tour cards for the 2022-23 season on Sunday include some of the best recent collegiate players and travelers with some incredible stories.
Carl Yuan represented China at the Tokyo Olympics last summer. Robbie Shelton advanced to the 2020 BMW Championship as a rookie, but lost his card after a flurry of swings. Paul Haley II earned his first PGA Tour card a decade ago and is a former minor league baseball teammate of Clayton Kershaw and Matthew Stafford.
Ben Griffin quit professional golf to work as a mortgage loan officer. During the Covid-19 shutdown, Eric Barnes stocked shelves at a grocery store on the night shift.
The best response to earning a PGA Tour card may have come from Kevin Roy, who shot a 3-over 68 in Sunday’s final round of the Pinnacle Bank Championship at Elkhorn, Nebraska, to finish tied for 24th on the 25-man list.
“Let the tears flow, you deserve it.”
— Korn Ferry Tour (@Korn FerryTour) August 14, 2022
Tyson Alexander, 34, also earned his first PGA Tour card, prompting one of his friends to settle a longtime high school bet.
Tyson Alexander’s lifelong friend was happy to pay that bet.
— Korn Ferry Tour (@Korn FerryTour) August 15, 2022
It doesn’t look like the PGA Tour and LIV Golf will be getting along anytime soon. So at least one former PGA Tour member headed to the breakout circuit is ready to watch them compete against each other.
He told reporters he was ready for LIV golfers to play against men on the PGA Tour before the International Series event in Singapore last week, according to the Straits Times. “I’m sure we’ll hold our own.
“Honestly, I’ve played every tour — this will be my second Asian Tour event because the last Saudi event was an Asian Tour event, but I’ve played DP World, I’ve played the PGA Tour, I’ve played one Korn Ferry Tour event, and now I’ve played two LIV golf events. , and I can tell you this much: The guys out there, it doesn’t matter what the dollar amount is — I think, to be honest with you, the players are sick and tired of hearing about that.
“At the end of the day, when you go out there, you’re not just playing for yourself, you’re playing as a team member, and we’re all motivated to win trophies. There’s a reason these major players are playing. All these great golfers are coming, because they believe in the product, they know it’s the right thing to do.
Reed finished 31st at 8 under in the Asian Tour event.