Will Zalatoris inching ever closer to a maiden major crown

William Patrick Zalatoris is an American professional golfer on the PGA Tour. He won the 2020 TPC Colorado Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour.

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The sport of golf can be cruel and unforgiving at times — you only need to look at the PGA Championship for that. The majors serve as a significant milestone in a golfer’s career, and even from pole positions things can just as easily capitulate, and judging from this year alone at Southern Hills, that statement couldn’t be truer.

It looked as though Rory McIlroy would end his eight-year drought for that fifth major title after a fast start, taking a first-round lead with a five-under-par 65. But his self-inflicted fall from grace showed how quickly things can turn.

The same can be said for Mito Pereira — whose double bogey at the 72nd hole consequently cost him not only the title, but a place in the playoff. Everyone was routing for the Chilean, who at 100th in the world rankings at the time, was a massive outsider for those golf fans that bet online. But it was not to be Pereira’s tournament, and Justin Thomas eventually grabbed himself the title after beating fellow American Will Zalatoris.

Indeed, Thomas was as surprised as the rest us when he picked up a second title, denying Zalatoris a maiden major crown in the process. It ended up being tantalisingly close, but Thomas’s closing 67 was just better than Zalatoris’s 63, outscoring the 25-year-old on the 13th, 17th, and 18th. Despite his best efforts, it shouldn’t be all doom and gloom for Zalatoris, who was clearly frustrated with coming second.

“I fought like crazy all day,” he said. “Pretty proud of the result that I had.”

“I knew I needed those putts. Those are putts that you keep in the memory bank for the future.”

“I hit a great putt on 17. We just under read it. Like I said, hats off to JT (Thomas). He's been due for a while to get another win, let alone a major. So, excited for him.”

It leaves him looking for a first professional victory since 2020, when he overcame Chase Johnson in the 2020 Colorado Championship. It seems like a lifetime ago now, with so much changing in the golfing landscape since then due to the coronavirus pandemic, but there seems to be a changing of the guard in the sport, with a new generation being ushered in that looks set to dominate the majors for years to come.

We’ve already seen the meteoric rise of Scottie Scheffler since the turn of the year, albeit one that has slowed down since defeat to Sam Burns in the Charles Schwab Challenge, while Cameron Young and Cameron Smith are still in their 20s.

On the other hand, golf’s proverbial ‘old guard’ are looking like a pale imitation of their previous selves. McIlroy, while still only a 33-year-old, is almost approaching a decade since his last PGA Championship success, his decline slow and listless. And Tiger Woods was forced to withdraw in the third round at Southern Hills after persistent injuries have really hampered his comeback since the 2019 Masters.

Time is certainly on the side of Zalatoris, at 25, he’s already had over 50 professional starts so there are much worse positions to be in. All he needs now is the proficiency of a title to back up the potential he has shown since bursting onto the scene when finishing second in last year’s Masters.

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