In one of the craziest playoffs in recent PGA Tour memory, Will Zalatoris took advantage of the wildest break of them all to capture his long-awaited first PGA Tour victory Sunday at the FedEx St. Jude Championship.
After two eventful playoff holes between Zalatoris and Sepp Straka, Zalatoris’ tee shot at the third extra hole – the 151-yard, par-3 11th at TPC Southwind – barely carried the water, took a bounce on the bank and then at least six more bounces on the rock retaining wall before settling between the wall and the rough.
With Straka rinsing his tee shot – after Zalatoris had put himself in a precarious situation – and eventually lying four a few feet away, Zalatoris’ decision was made easier. But he still thought about playing the likely impossible shot.
Instead, after some discussion with new caddie Joel Stock, Zalatoris went back to the drop area, knocked a wedge from 93 yards out to 7 feet and rolled in the winning bogey putt.
The exciting finish followed a crazy second playoff hole, the par-4 18th, where Zalatoris’ drive sailed right, bounced hard off the cart path and came to rest a couple feet from the out-of-bounds fence. Straka’s drive hooked hard and nearly into the water before somehow stopping on the bank.
While Zalatoris opted to punch out, Straka was even more conservative, keeping his shoes on (he’d taken them off briefly while contemplating a stance in the lake) and taking a penalty stroke so he could drop back in the fairway. From 152 yards out, Straka stuck his third shot to 7 feet to put the pressure back on his opponent. Zalatoris, who had converted a clutch 10-footer for par on the hole in regulation, responded by rolling in the 14-foot par save.
Straka matched to extend the playoff before getting closed out a hole later.