2022 FedEx St Jude Invitational, Will Zalatoris Get Long-Awaited First Win to Vault to the Top of the FedEx Cup Standings.
Will Zalatoris has come oh-so-close in his year and a half on the PGA Tour—four times, in fact, and three of those runner-up finishes have been at majors.
But the player who has had the distinction of most likely to log his first win (after Scottie Scheffler broke through for his first win in February) has now done so, and he did it in a big spot to leap past Scheffler at the top of the FedEx Cup standings with two events left to go.
Zalatoris beat Sepp Straka after three playoff holes at the FedEx St. Jude Championship at TPC Southwind, requiring three clutch putts to do so. Both shot a 15-under 265 over the first 72 holes.
First, Zalatoris saved par from 10 feet away on the final hole of regulation to send it to a playoff. He knocked one in from 13.5 feet on the same hole, which was the first playoff hole. And then seven feet from the par-3 11th to save bogey and win the tournament.
“Yeah, it’s kind of hard to say ‘about time’ when it’s your second year on tour, but about time,” said Zalatoris.
Missed putts, especially at the end of tournaments, have been what kept trophies out of reach for Zalatoris, as he ranked 120th in Strokes Gained: Putting coming into this event. He also started with a 1-over 71 on Thursday but rallied to shoot 63, 65, and 66.
Zalatoris used a new caddy, Joel Stock, this week, and he began to read putts for him in the second round. He was second in SG: Putting on Friday and 25th for the tournament. One change Zalatoris made was to not take as much time on the green.
“Yeah, I’ve tried to get a little bit quicker,” Zalatoris said. “Whenever I’ve struggled, I’ve been slow. I do everything – I’m a fast walker, I’m obviously a fast talker, I do everything quick. But being able to just look at the target, roll the ball to there and move on, accept what happens.”
Behind Zalatoris and Straka were Lucas Glover and Brian Harman, who tied for third at -12. Seven golfers tied for fifth at -11, including Adam Scott, who entered the tournament at No. 77 in the standings but rose to 45th and will continue playing next week.
FedEx Cup points were doubled for this event, so Zalatoris’ 1,000-point win moved him ahead of Scheffler into first place with 3,680 points.
Scheffler is second, 135 points behind, and it’s likely that the duo will enter the Tour Championship in first and second place, considering that Scheffler is 1,008 points ahead of third-place Cameron Smith.
The Tour Championship uses starting strokes based on FedEx Cup points standings: the leader starts at -10, second place at -8, third at -7, and so on.
The top 70 in the standings advance to the BMW Championship at Wilmington Country Club in Delaware, the first PGA Tour event to ever be held in that state. FedEx Cup points are quadrupled for this event, so a handful of players have a chance to eclipse Zalatoris with a win. Patrick Cantlay won last year’s event in a six-hole playoff over Bryson DeChambeau at Caves Valley in Maryland.