Will Zalatoris claims first PGA Tour victory after impossible bounce on final hole
This was one of the craziest bounces in PGA Tour history.
The final round of the FedEx St. Jude Championship — the first round of the PGA Tour playoffs — provided some incredible drama on Sunday evening. Will Zalatoris and Sepp Straka entered a playoff tied at 15-under after the 18th hole. After trading pars on the first two holes of the playoff, the two golfers headed to the par-3 11th, where Zalatoris was the first to tee off.
The 25-year-old American hit an errant tee shot that looked to be headed straight toward the water, which would have set Straka up for a victory. But in what can only be described as a miracle, his ball hit the stone wall that guards the water, bounced up in the air several times, and somehow managed to come to rest safely on the ledge – and out of the drink.
While Zalatoris escaped the penalty, he still had a near-impossible lie below the grass line on the top of the wall, setting the stage for Straka to win if he could get the ball onto the green. Instead, the Austrian hit a near identical shot to Zalatoris – only his ball was not as fortunate and ended up in the water.
Straka took it back to the tee for his third shot after the penalty, and was unable to find the green yet again, hitting the bunker. After watching the advantage shift even further in his direction, Zalatoris then decided to take a penalty himself, as hitting the ball off the stone ledge had disaster potential.
He managed to find the green on his second tee shot – and sunk a putt to win the tournament and earn the $2.7 million winner’s check.
The win was Zalatoris’ first on the PGA Tour, though he has gotten agonizingly close on multiple occasions. He finished second in the 2021 Masters in his first season on the PGA Tour, and in 2022 he lost to Justin Thomas in a playoff at the PGA Championship and came in second yet again in the 2022 US Open at Brookline.
In the first round of the PGA Tour playoffs, the Wake Forest product finally tasted victory.