Will Zalatoris Chasing History on Sunday at Southern Hills
Will Zalatoris doesn’t have a dog in the fight between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics, but he’ll likely still watch. Zalatoris likes to stay up late when he knows he has an afternoon tee time the next day, which he does on Sunday. He will play in the penultimate group in hopes of chasing down his first Major title at the 2022 PGA Championship.
Watching Game 3 of the NBA Playoffs also comes as a welcome distraction for the 36-hole leader who struggled to a 3-over par 73 on Moving Day to lose his lead to Mito Pereira, whom he trails by three to start the final round. Zalatoris struggled early, making four bogeys in his first seven holes to go out in 39. He got back on track on the inward nine, recording two birdies and a single bogey to shoot 34.
“I was pretty frustrated with the start, but I would rather have a frustrating start and good finish,” said Zalatoris. “It's good momentum heading into tomorrow. It was brutal out there.” Zalatoris wasn’t alone in getting batted around by the tough conditions. Saturday, temperatures dipped into the 50s and wind gusts reached as high as 25 mph. Only a dozen players carded sub-par rounds in the most challenging conditions players have faced during the week at Southern Hills Country Club.
“Having to hit putts soft and outside the hole and playing with crosswinds on top of that, like on 9, we just honestly just caught a horrendous gust and just didn't even have a chance halfway through. That ball flew probably a cup and a half off the line,” Zalatoris said about Saturday’s conditions.
Zalatoris grew up in the Dallas area, where he played in plenty of wind, and got to know several major champions who call Texas home. Lee Trevino, a six-time major champion, and Lanny Wadkins, winner of the PGA Championship, are two of the veterans Zalatoris has learned from in recent years. Zalatoris also pointed to his relationship with fellow Dallas residents Jordan Spieth, a three-time major champion, and Scottie Scheffler, who captured his first major title in April at the Masters Tournament, as sources of advice and inspiration as he looks to win for the first time on Sunday.
“Something Scottie Scheffler said the other day I think resonates a lot, where what made him become a major champion, he said that it was belief,” said Zalatoris. “That's kind of the same attitude that any of us have out here to win, whether it's a regular event, a Korn Ferry event, or a major.”
Even without his best game on Moving Day — he hit his fewest number of fairways and greens on Saturday — Zalatoris is still in the hunt. It’s a position he’s become quite familiar with four top 10s in just seven career major starts.
“I think you've got to go out and get it,” Zalatoris said. “Everybody's got to go out and earn it. Just like I said, keep doing what I'm doing and, hopefully, it adds up to the lowest score.”