Will Zalatoris Says 2nd-Place Finish at 2022 US Open 'Hurts Pretty Hard'

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJune 20, 2022

BROOKLINE, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 19: Will Zalatoris of the United States reacts to his putt for birdie on the 11th green during the final round of the 122nd U.S. Open Championship at The Country Club on June 19, 2022 in Brookline, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Sunday was another story of what could have been for Will Zalatoris.

The 25-year-old finished one stroke behind Matt Fitzpatrick at the 2022 U.S. Open at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts. He just missed a 14-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole that would have forced a playoff, which meant a third second-place finish in nine major starts.

"This one, in particular, hurts pretty hard," he told reporters. "I'm three shots away from practically being a—having a chance of being a three-time major champion. A bounce here or there."

Zalatoris finished in second place in the 2021 Masters and second place in this year's PGA Championship with the latter coming after he fell short in a playoff against Justin Thomas. He has six top-10 finishes in those nine major starts but is yet to win a PGA Tour tournament.

Fitzpatrick found himself in a similar situation with a resume that included zero wins but 22 top-10s and multiple second-place finishes in 105 tour events.

That changed Sunday, but it appeared as if Scottie Scheffler would take home the title when he jumped out to a lead with four birdies on the first six holes of the final round. Just when it looked like he might run away with it, he bogeyed Nos. 10 and 11 and didn't notch another birdie until the 17th.

It was part of a back-and-forth day with Zalatoris posting bogeys on two of his first three holes only to bounce back with four birdies in a six-hole stretch from Nos. 6 through 11 to take the lead.

Fitzpatrick took an opposite approach with a red-hot start of birdies on Nos. 3, 5 and 8 but back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 10 and 11.

The biggest swing came on the 15th when Fitzpatrick birdied following a beautiful approach shot and Zalatoris ended up with a bogey. The eventual runner-up dialed up the pressure one more time with a birdie on the 16th to pull within one stroke, but Fitzpatrick unleashed the shot of the tournament on the 18th when he found the green on his second despite hitting his drive in the fairway bunker.

Fitzpatrick hit 17 of 18 greens in Sunday's final round but still needed Zalatoris to miss his birdie putt on 18 to secure the championship.

"I'm not happy with finishing second," Zalatoris said. "I'm obviously trying to make it. The comfort level is there, especially now that I know I can do this. I just have to keep waiting my turn."

His turn almost came Sunday.