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It took three drama-filled playoff holes at the 2022 FedEx St. Jude Championship at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee, but Will Zalatoris is finally successful on the PGA Tour.
He and another top-70 golfers in the standings advance to another round of the FedEx Cup playoffs at the BMW Championship in Wilmington, Delaware. However, that has been surely definately not his mind as he went shot for shot with Sepp Straka down the stretch and lastly came out at the top after so many narrow misses.
Zalatoris, who shot a four-under 66 in Sunday’s final round to create his tournament total to 15-under, drained a 10-foot par putt on the 18th that has been just shorter compared to the one he missed which could have forced a playoff at the U.S. Open.
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“What exactly are they gonna say now?!” pic.twitter.com/4vZcI82Art
The playoff then became a tale of surviving poor shots, as Zalatoris scrambled to save lots of par carrying out a brutal drive on the next hole, limited to Straka to accomplish exactly the same after he considered taking his shoes off and hitting from the water’s edge before going for a penalty.
Things took another start the par-three third playoff hole when Zalatoris’ tee shot wedged itself between rocks and the grass, and Straka’s found the water. The eventual victor took a drop rather than risking catching the rocks along with his club face and making things worse, also it became the proper call when he won having an up-and-down from the drop zone.
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Golf is really a game of inches. pic.twitter.com/9ncFqNNdWX
Even prior to the wild playoff, there is no shortage of storylines getting into the ultimate round, with J.J. Spaun one stroke before Straka and two strokes before Zalatoris, Cameron Smith and Trey Mullinax.
Spaun and Straka were both first-time PGA Tour winners this season, and a win for either could have been enough to clinch an area in the FedEx Cup finale at the TOUR Championship.
Then there is Zalatoris, who was simply attempting to join them as first-time winners. He previously come close on the sport’s biggest stages with a playoff loss at the PGA Championship, a second-place finish at the U.S. Open and a top-10 showing at the Masters earlier this season.
Also, Smith was arguably the largest story of the complete tournament. There’s speculation he’ll be joining LIV Golf, and there is a chance for him to become No. 1 on the planet with a victory at TPC Southwind following victories at The Players Championship and The Open Championship this season.
“Which has been among my goals probably because the start of year would be to try to reach that top spot,” he told reporters. “Try to chase it down.”
Yet chasing it down became a lot more difficult before he even teed off, as he was presented with a two-stroke penalty for “improper keeping the ball” upon overview of his third round and fell four shots back:
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Cameron Smith has been penalized two strokes for improper keeping the ball in the penalty area in Round 3.
He now begins the ultimate round trailing by four.
More on the penalty pic.twitter.com/a1wr2Bqv9R
That, alongside just two birdies from Smith on his solution to an even-par 70, opened yet another window for challengers to produce a run up the leaderboard. It appeared to be Denny McCarthy will be the someone to seize the chance in the first choosing four birdies on the initial seven holes to go to 12-under.
Among the birdies even came after he hit the ball right into a chair’s cup holder:
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But still made birdie pic.twitter.com/RXLVEkAu1H
However, McCarthy dropped from contention by shooting four-over on the ultimate 11 holes. Adam Scott also got only 12-under and was within one stroke of the lead, but his chances realistically ended when his tee shot on the 18th found the water to create a closing bogey.
Elsewhere, Collin Morikawa also bogeyed the 18th and missed a brief birdie putt on the 17th to get rid of a run that saw him climb only 12-under, while Lucas Glover’s bogey on the ultimate hole dropped him to 12-under after he briefly tied the lead with two straight birdies on the 16th and 17th.
The theme of challengers approaching just short continued when Tony Finau’s bid for a third consecutive tournament win after victories at the 3M Open and Rocket Mortgage Classic ended without enough birdies (three) to opt for 14 steady pars.
Throw in Brian Harman bogeying two of the ultimate five holes after tying the lead with a birdie on No. 13, Spaun free-falling down the leaderboard having an eight-over 78, and Mullinax bogeying three of the final four holes, also it was a two-man race to the title between Zalatoris and Straka.
Zalatoris caught the initial major break when his drive on the par-five 16th kicked right out of the trees and in to the fairway to create a birdie.
Straka didn’t blink, though, answering with a birdie of their own on the 16th and a hard par save well on the 17th to create the eventual playoff.
Zalatoris, who birdied the initial three holes and appeared to hang on for a lot of all of those other round, also had a clutch moment on the path to the playoff with the cold-blooded putt to save lots of par on the 18th.
It just set the stage for the memorable playoff.