Will Zalatoris loses playoff to Justin Thomas, major win close, Happy Gilmore caddie - jobs fights tigma
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Will Zalatoris loses playoff to Justin Thomas, major win close, Happy Gilmore caddie


Will Zalatoris loses playoff to Justin Thomas, major win close, Happy Gilmore caddie

A little over a year ago, then 24-year-old Will Zalatoris came within a shot of playing off for a green jacket in his Masters debut.

It was a breakthrough moment for the American, but one that was ultimately highlighted by comparisons to Happy Gilmore’s teen caddy at the Waterbury Open.

The uncanniness might have been good for a laugh – even for Adam Sandler who weighed in on Twitter – but it took some of the attention away from the exceptional talent of the emerging star.

Nearly fourteen months down the line and it’s clear that Zalatoris’ game is no joke.

He has the potential to become the best player in the world.

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Those following the PGA Tour week in, week out, would not have been surprised to see the 25-year-old run deep at the PGA Championship at Southern Hills.

Once again, Zalatoris fell agonisingly short of a major championship, narrowly defeated by Justin Thomas in a three-hole playoff on Monday morning (AEST).

Justin Thomas wins PGA Championship! | 01:29

On a day when the wind was up and the nerves were jangling, it took a seasoned pro with a proven record under pressure to carve through the field and clinch the Wanamaker Trophy.

But Zalatoris wasn’t far off, piecing together a brilliant challenge when the vast majority of the world’s best players couldn’t even break par.

Zalatoris does not quite have all the tools he needs to dominate the world yet, and those shortcomings were exposed by Thomas in the final round.

His accuracy off the tee is a cause for concern while his unsteady stroke over short putts is enough to make even a single-digit handicapper feel yippy.

Zalatoris’ ball-striking, however, rivals Collin Morikawa for the best in the game, while his ability to remain composed and slow the game down when under pressure is a champion trademark he shares with some of the best.

That was on display at the sixth hole on Monday when a massive gust of wind carried his approach shot well over the green and into a hedge on the other side of the cart path.

Zalatoris calmly strode to his ball, chatted with one rules official, then sought another for a second opinion as he weighed up all his options.

At no point did Zalatoris lose his cool despite the fact that the predicament could have easily derailed his entire tournament.

Eventually, he settled on dropping the ball on the cart path, from which he got the ball up-and-down to save a miraculous bogey.

Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee was left stunned by the level of composure.

PGA leader’s BRUTAL meltdown! | 01:47

“Incredible (being) in the moment, staying patient, keeping your wits about you,” Chamblee said. “The whole process at (hole) six might have been one of the greatest processes of keeping your wits about you in chaos that you will ever see at a major championship.

“If I was teaching a course on sports psychology, I would just run that tape and say ‘just watch the way the guy handled this’.”

Meanwhile, Zalatoris’ ability with an iron in hand is freakish.

He is ranked No.1 out of 205 for ‘strokes gained: approach-the-green’ – which compares players’ performance in approach shots on the PGA Tour – and No.5 for greens in regulation percentage (70.65).

The numbers alone are impressive, although they do not speak to his ability to repeat his athletic swing when the heat is on – something which Chilean Mito Pereira failed to do at the 72nd hole.

Thomas stuns with amazing comeback win | 01:06

Zalatoris hit seven of nine greens in regulation on the back nine, with the two he did not hit being the result of laying up rather than clear misses.

And despite wobbling over some short putts, he made a number of bigger ones, including a clutch eight-footer on 18 that ultimately put him in the playoffs.

“He did so many things today that showed he’s up to snuff when it comes to playing major championship golf, if we hadn’t already discerned that from his major championship success,” Chamblee said.

Zalatoris is also filled with the self-belief that any major-winner needs.

He’s previously called himself a “major championship specialist” – a bold call given he never won one, but his career trajectory is undeniable.

Zalatoris has five top-10 finishes at the majors from his first eight starts, making him the first player since Ernie Els in the mid 90s to achieve that feat.

The next step is obvious, especially to Zalatoris himself.

“I’m pretty excited about where my game is at for sure,” he told reporters. “I know I’m going to get one, it’s just a matter of time.

“It’s been a dream of mine to win a major since I was a little kid. It’s never been to be world No.1 or anything like that. It’s to win a major. ”

‘Bizarre’ day ends in comeback victory | 02:13


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