WILMINGTON, Del. – The BMW championship hasn’t started yet, but Will Zalatoris is already in the lead. Not on the course, but – and perhaps more importantly – in the FedEx Cup standings.
By virtue of his first PGA Tour win at the FedEx St. Jude Championship, Zalatoris moved from 12th to first place, 124 points ahead of defending Masters champion and four-time winner Scottie Scheffler.
Victory has been a long time in coming for Zalatoris, who has nine top 10s this season and several close calls at the majors dating back to the 2020 US Open. One of the best ball-strikers on tour, Zalatoris has all the physical tools to win on tour, even with his “reluctant” putter, which, in reality, isn’t that bad of the tour average.
“Yeah, it’s amazing how well we gelled. I joked with him that he can only go down from here,” Zalatoris said Wednesday at the Wilmington Country Club. “The part he did such a good job of, especially on Sundays, was just keeping me in the moment, telling me to focus on my breathing, and then at times when things got a little tense , he would pull out some of his classic dad jokes to make me laugh.
There were plenty of tense moments on Sunday for Zalatoris, who needed a clutch stoppage on the 72nd green to force a playoff with Sepp Straka, then nearly dunked his approach shot on the third hole of the playoffs in water. Instead, his ball stayed on the rocks but nestled under the cut of rough that led into the water. It was a precarious position for anyone, let alone someone trying to earn their first PGA Tour victory.
“It’s tough because you’re 20 feet from the hole and all I have to do is step it one foot forward, and I’ll win the golf tournament unless I do something stupid. “, said Zalatoris. ” Josh Gregory [his coach] had a hilarious line; he said, all you had to do was move the ball one foot, and hope it’s forward, and if it’s back, you lose the golf tournament.
“Yeah, I knew for sure I wasn’t going to play, but I just wanted to make sure, given that I was so close to the hole, that I wasn’t giving up an easy opportunity.”
Instead, Zalatoris and Stock made the cautious call to go to the drop zone, from which Zalatoris rose and fell to win. The win was a big milestone, sure, but it also earned him 2,000 FedEx Cup points. Now first in the standings ahead of the BMW, not much has changed for the budding star.
“Yes and no. There’s so much golf ahead of us,” Zalatoris said. but we have the best players in the world here. Just because I won last week doesn’t make it any easier, so I have to go back and start over.
It might be slightly easier statistically considering there are only 68 players on the field this week compared to 120 in Memphis. The counterpoint is that this course is full of guys playing the best golf right now. On a course he has never seen before this week, Zalatoris will have to rely a lot on his new partner. If last week was any indication, that doesn’t seem to be a problem.
“He did an amazing job, especially since Monday was our first day together. Hats off to him in the stretch,” Zalatoris said. club, commit to this, given that we’ve only been together for such a short time, it was amazing.”