St. Jude Championship 2022: Will Zalatoris wins first PGA Tour event


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Will Zalatoris had the most money and the best world ranking without a PGA Tour win. He changed that Sunday by winning the FedEx St. Jude Championship without birdieing a three-hole playoff.

Heartache from two previous playoff losses this year — one major — turned into relief for Zalatoris after a wild finish at TPC Southwind. It ended when he took a penalty drop from the rocks framing the par-3 11th green and holed a 7-foot bogey putt to beat Sepp Straka.

Zalatoris moves into the world’s top 10 for the first time and is ranked No. 1 spot, assuring him a reasonable shot at the $18 million prize in two weeks.

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Will Zalatoris celebrates after defeating Sepp Straka of Austria in a playoff during the final round of the St. Jude Championship golf tournament, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2022, in Memphis, Tenn.

Will Zalatoris celebrates after defeating Sepp Straka of Austria in a playoff during the final round of the St. Jude Championship golf tournament, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2022, in Memphis, Tenn.
(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

He was clutch even when he was scrambling. That said with a 10-foot par save on the 18th to post a 4-under 66 to post at 15-under 265.

Straka, already a winner at the Honda Classic this year, narrowly missed a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th for a 67 to win.

Both tied on the 18th on the first extra hole. Then, as Straka said after the loss, “it can get a little crazy,” and the no. A closing hole like 18.

Zalatoris left the tee, went a few feet off the cart path and the boundary fence, leaving him with no choice but to chip out. Straka did not clear the water on the left side, but was inside the danger line. He elected to take the penalty drop and hit at 7 feet. Zalatoris hit his third to just 15 feet and made par. Straka accommodated him and he went 11th.

Zalatoris watched his tee shot hit the bank and then the rocks, and the ball bounced seven times before coming to rest next to the grass lip. Even though the ball was dry, they were in trouble. But then Staka went right, taking one bounce off the slope, one off the rocks and into the water.

Straka went to the back bunker and blasted to 4 feet. Zalatoris studied his options on how to get off the rocks before wisely deciding to head for the drop zone. He hit his wedge to 7 feet and raised both hands above his head when the putt fell.

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Will Zalatoris celebrates after puttingt on the 18th green during the final round of the St. Jude Championship golf tournament, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2022, in Memphis, Tenn.

Will Zalatoris celebrates after puttingt on the 18th green during the final round of the St. Jude Championship golf tournament, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2022, in Memphis, Tenn.
(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

“It’s pretty cool that that decision paid off,” Zalatoris said.

He earned $2.7 million from his first PGA Tour postseason event, and it takes the sting out of playoff losses at Torrey Pines and Southern Hills at the PGA Championship. Zalatoris missed a 15-foot putt on the final hole of the US Open that would have forced a playoff.

Straka, who went bogey-free over the final 13 holes in regulation, moved up to 8th in the standings and secured his first trip to the Tour Championship at East Lake.

Lucas Glover came away with the consolation prize. Former US Open champion FedEx Cup playoff No. came in at 121, knowing that only the top 70 would advance to the next tournament.

Glover finished with a 66 and wound up in a tie for third. Not only is he one of four players to break into the top 70, he is now ranked 34th and has a good chance to be part of the top 30 heading into the Tour Championship for the $18 million first prize.

Adam Scott, Andrew Putnam and Wyndham Clarke, who are moving into the top 70s, had reason to think they threw away their chances when they played a four-hole stretch at 4-over and had to save par on the 18th. 72. They beat No. by three points. Finished in 70.

Meanwhile, world no. 1 remains with Masters champion Scotty Scheffler, who missed the cut and played Pine Valley for the first time Sunday.

Sepp Straka of Austria prepares to hit the sixth tee during the final round of the St. Jude Championship golf tournament, Sunday, Aug.  14, 2022, in Memphis, Tenn.

Sepp Straka of Austria prepares to hit the sixth tee during the final round of the St. Jude Championship golf tournament, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2022, in Memphis, Tenn.
(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

British Open champion Cameron Smith could have replaced him by winning, and he arrived at TPC Southwind with a two-shot lead. And then he got four shots back without hitting a single shot. When Smith took a penalty drop in the third round, Smith was given a two-shot penalty when the rules officials checked that the ball was still touching the red hazard line.

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He checked with Smith to confirm he was touching the line. He birdied the first hole, birdied the only other, shot 70 and tied for 13th. Smith declined interview requests.



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