MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Will Zalatoris had the most money and the highest world ranking of anyone who didn’t win on the PGA Tour. He changed that Sunday by winning the FedEx St. Jude Championship without birdie in a three-hole playoff.
Heartache in two previous playoff losses this year — one in a major — turned into relief for Zalatoris after a wild finish in TPC Southwind. It ended when he took a penalty on the rocks that frame the par-3 11th green and hit a 7-foot bogey putt to beat Sepp Straka.
Zalatoris enters the world’s top 10 for the first time and takes first place in the FedEx Cup, securing him a reasonable chance of winning the $18 million prize in two weeks.
He was clutch even though he was scrambling. He declared with a par save from 10 feet on 18 in regulation for a 4-under 66 to post at 15-under 265.
Straka, already a winner this year in the Honda Classic, narrowly missed a 20-foot birdie putt for the win on 18 for a 67.
Both pared the 18th on the first extra hole. Then, as Straka said after the loss, “it can get a little crazy” on a course like, and a closing hole like #18.
Zalatoris came off the tee, out of the cart path and yards from a boundary fence, leaving him no choice but to chip. Straka barely cleared the water on the left, but was just inside the danger line. He opted to take a penalty and kick in 7 feet. Zalatoris hit his third just inside 15 feet and made the par. Straka tied it and they went to 11th.
Zalatoris watched his tee shot hit the bank and then the rocks, then the ball bounced seven times before coming to rest next to the edge of the grass. He was in trouble, even though the ball was dry. But then Staka went right, took one rebound up the incline, one over the rocks and into the water.
Straka entered a rear bunker and exploded 4 feet. Zalatoris considered his options on how to get down rocks before deciding wisely to go to the drop zone. He hit his corner at 7 feet and raised both arms above his head as the putt fell.
“Seeing that payout decision was pretty cool,” Zalatoris said.
He won $2.7 million in his first PGA Tour post-season event, and that eliminates playoff losses to Torrey Pines and Southern Hills in the PGA Championship. Zalatoris also missed a 15-foot putt on the final hole of the US Open that would have forced a playoff.
Straka, who played bogey-free on the last 13 holes of regulation, moves up to 8th in the standings and is assured of his first trip to the Tour Championship at East Lake.
Lucas Glover walked away with a consolation prize. The former US Open champion entered the FedEx Cup playoffs at No. 121 knowing that only the top 70 will advance to the next tournament.
Glover finished with a 66 and tied for third place. Not only was he one of four players who made it into the top 70, but he’s now ranked 34th and has a good chance of making it into the top 30 heading to the Tour Championship to play for the $18 million top prize. dollars.
Adam Scott, Andrew Putnam and Wyndham Clark also entered the top 70, who had reason to believe he had ruined his chances when he played a sequence of four holes in a par 4 and had to save the par the 18 for a 72. He finished at No. 70 by three runs.
Meanwhile, the world No. 1 remains with Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, who missed the cut and spent Sunday playing at Pine Valley for the first time.
British Open champion Cameron Smith could have replaced him winning, and he arrived at TPC Southwind two shots off the lead. And then he was four shots back without hitting a shot. Smith received a two-stroke penalty when rules officials realized after review that when Smith took a penalty in the third round, the ball was still touching the red danger line.
They checked with Smith, who confirmed he was hitting the line. He birdied the first hole, birdied just one more, shot 70 and tied the game on the 13th. Smith declined interview requests.
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