ST. ANDREWS – Will Zalatoris has a chance to join some illustrious company at British Open. It's just not for the reason he would like.
Zalatoris is one runner-up finish from completing a career Second Slam — placing second at all four major tournaments. Jack Nicklaus has done it. So have Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson.
The difference is those guys have won majors galore, and the 25-year-old Zalatoris has never won any kind of tournament on the PGA Tour.
“I’m not even in double-digit majors, and we’re talking about me having four runners-up in majors here,” Zalatoris said. “I think I’ll take that resume, but obviously I’d like to replace some of the silver medals with some gold medals.”
Zalatoris turned professional in 2018 and has played at only nine majors so far, but he already is starting to make himself a constant contender.
He first finished second at the Masters in 2021. Then he lost a three-hole playoff to Justin Thomas at this year's PGA Championship and followed that with a runner-up spot at the U.S. Open behind Matt Fitzpatrick.
Another second-place finish would put him in that breathtaking company. Palmer, Nicklaus and Watson all completed their Second Slams after having already won a major. The first to achieve the feat, Craig Wood, managed to finish second in each major before actually winning one at the Masters in 1941.
“For me, let’s just keep growing on this experience," Zalatoris said. "I’m obviously playing some nice golf.”
This week would be a good time to get that first win out of the way. Not only is it a major, but it's the British Open at St. Andrews on the 150th anniversary of the tournament.
For the game of golf, it doesn't get much grander.
“The excitement level this week is obviously off the charts,” Zalatoris said. “I’ve obviously been very close, specifically in the last two majors. But game’s in a great place and in a great head space. This is a lot of fun.”
The good times can be fleeting through four rounds on the Old Course, however. The bunkers, the hills, the hollows — all can cause havoc or make a champion.
Zalatoris is trying to absorb as much as he can before the tournament starts on Thursday.
“Once you’ve got it figured out, you don’t,” he said.
Zalatoris has played one British Open before, last year's tournament at Royal St. George's. He shot a 69 in the first round and withdrew with a injury.
Then came his close calls this year at back-to-back majors after finishing in a tie for sixth at the Masters.
Coming down from those high points has proven to be a difficult task.
“It’s funny. I don’t sleep that great Sunday nights,” Zalatoris said. “It’s not that I’m sitting there stewing, it’s just trying to come down from the adrenaline. While I’m playing it, I don’t feel it. When I was in those last couple holes against Matt or even in the playoff with Justin, I don’t feel that big of an adrenaline push. Obviously I want to win. I’m as focused as I possibly can be, but it’s the coming down for me that’s hard.”
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