Brooklyn, Massachusetts. – Did Zalatores come short again, and this time, he thought he had it.
After missing the 18th hole that would have put him in a playoff with winner Matt Fitzpatrick, Zalatoris couldn’t help but sigh as he took home the runner-up silver. After speaking to the media while screens showed Fitzpatrick raising the cup, Zalatoris walked out with a forced smile. He had to come off the stage to let the hero pass.
“This, in particular, hurts really badly,” said Zalatores, who now has six top-10 spots in nine major games, including three times in second place. “I’m three shots away from having – practically – a chance of being a three-time main champ. Bounce here or there.”
The 25-year-old went into Sunday’s US Open without a major win or a PGA Tour win, but with a lot of confidence. He had said on Saturday that his second place finish in a playoff against Justin Thomas at this year’s PGA Championship had given him the belief he could be one of the best players in the world. But Believing couldn’t push his shot a few inches closer to the hole.
“With about six feet left, I thought I had it,” Zlatoris said of his kick. “Obviously it hurts. To have three riders so far in my career.”
On Sunday, Xalatores entered the tie for the lead with Fitzpatrick. Zalatoris struggled early, making two bobsles in the first five holes before his elusive racket caught fire. He knocked out four of the next six holes and, at one point, got two shots ahead of Fitzpatrick.
“I fought like crazy,” Zalatores said, describing his driving as “horrible” during the week, adding that his hip was bothering him. The usual troubles for the 2021 Masters runner-up came with his racket, but as he said with a smile on Sunday, he was doing just fine.
Zalatores said of the hit on the 18: “I’m sure all the idiots on Instagram would say it had something to do with the curvature of my left wrist, and I promise it had nothing to do with it.”
The two errors costly to Zalatores came to nine errors. On the twelfth hole, he missed the fairway and had to strike, knocking out two ghosts. On the fifteenth day, he missed the pass again. Fitzpatrick did too, but he missed it so completely that he had a better lie than Zalatoris, who was in trouble. Fitzpatrick’s bird. Zalatoris deceived. The lead at the time was two in favor of Fitzpatrick.
In Part 3, 16, Zalatoris made a bird to sit on its back. But when Fitzpatrick saved his errant drive finding the bunker with a perfect iron shot in the 18th green, the pressure returned on Zalatores, who then fired Fitzpatrick’s shot “balls” and “1 in 20.”
“I knew Will was going to get close to him,” Fitzpatrick said. “He’s one of the best approach players on the tours.”
Zalatoris hit him just within 15 feet. He put Fitzpatrick on a par, so Zalatoris knew what he had to do. When he hit the ball and watched it flow through the hole without falling, it was Zalatores who fell to his knees in agony. The hero has been determined.
“I was actually asked, how nervous were you at 18?” Zalatoris said. “It’s as if I have nothing to lose. It either comes in or it doesn’t go.”
Even after a heavy loss, Zalatores showed confidence, saying he had a recipe for victory. With less than a month to go until the next major tournament – the Open in St Andrews – Zalatores said he is glad he will be trying again soon.
“I’m not happy about getting second place,” he said. “Obviously I’m trying to make it happen. The comfort level is there, especially now that I know I can do it. I just have to wait my turn.”