BROOKLINE, Massachusetts – Will Zalatoris was short again, and this time he thought he had it.
After Zalatoris missed the 14-foot birdie putt on the 18th track, which would have brought him to the playoffs with winner Matt Fitzpatrick, Zalatoris could not be beaten as he was awarded a second place silver medal at the US Open on Sunday. He spoke to the media while the screens showed Fitzpatrick lifting the cup, and then left Zalator with a forced smile. He had to leave the stage for the champion to pass.
“In particular, it hurts a lot,” said Zalatoris, who now has six top ten finishes in nine main starts, including three second places. “I’m three shots away from being – I have a chance to become a triple grandmaster. Bounce here or there.”
The 25-year-old went to Sunday’s game without a big win or a PGA Tour win, but still with confidence. He had said on Saturday that his recent second-place finish at Justin Thomas this year’s PGA Championships gave him confidence that he could become one of the best players in the world. But faith couldn’t push his putt a few inches closer to the hole.
“With six more feet left, I thought it was here,” Zalatoris said of his putt. “It’s obviously stinging. That I’ve had three ranks in the majors during my career.”
Zalatoris took the lead with Fitzpatrick on Sunday. Zalatoris struggled early, making two bogeys on the first five tracks before his always elusive putter caught fire. He hit four of the next six on August and was one-half ahead of Fitzpatrick.
“I fought like crazy,” Zalatoris said, calling his ride this week “horrible,” adding that his tree was bothering him. The usual problems for second place in the 2021 Masters have come with his putter, but as he said with a smile on Sunday, his putter was fine.
“I’m sure all Instagram debuts say it has something to do with my left wrist flexion,” Zalatoris said of the 18th game. “I promise you it has nothing to do with it.”
Zalatoris’ two costly mistakes came after nine. On track 12, he made a mistake on the fairway and had to knock out, leading to a bogey 2-putt. On the 15th he was lost again at the fairway. Fitzpatrick did the same, but he missed it so far that he was better off than Zalatoris, who was harsh. Fitzpatrick chick. Zalatoris kolkas. The driver was then in favor of 2 Fitzpatricks.
On day 16 of Par-3, Zalatoris ticked to sit 1 backwards. But when Fitzpatrick saved his lost run, which found the bunker with the perfect iron stroke of the 18th green, the pressure came back to Zalatoris, who later called Fitzpatrick’s approach stroke “1 in 20”.
“I knew very well that Will would hit it close,” Fitzpatrick said. “He’s one of the best approaching players on the tour.”
Zalatoris hit it 15 feet away. Fitzpatrick scored 2 points, so Zalatoris knew what to do. As he hit the ball and watched it slip through the hole without falling, Zalatoris fell to his knees in agony. The master was determined.
“I’ve already been asked how nervous you were on the 18th potty?” said Zalatoris. “I don’t like to lose anything. It either goes in or it doesn’t go.”
Even after a heavy loss, Zalatoris predicted self-confidence, saying he had a recipe for victory. Until the next main one – St. Andrews’ open games – less than a month away – said Zalatoris was happy to try again soon.
“I’m not happy to be second,” he said. “I’m probably trying to cope. There’s comfort, especially now that I know I can handle it. I just have to wait my turn.”
#hurts #Zalatoris #barely