By Art Stricklin
TULSA – It was another close call for Will Zalatoris, his fourth top 10 finish in a major golf championship. But still no victory on golf’s grandest stage.
But late Sunday night, a playoff loss to Justin Thomas in the 2022 PGA Championship didn’t dampen Zalatoris or his longtime coach and mentor David Price who was there in person to watch as Thomas birdied two of three holes in the playoff to edge his pupil by one shots.
Zalatoris said his playoff loss did nothing to dent his confidence or the fact he feels he’ll be in the major championship winner’s circle sooner rather than later.
“Yeah, they are just exciting,” he said. “There’s only four a year, and I think it’s been a dream of mine to win a major since I was a little kid.
“It’s never going to be world No. 1 or anything like that. It’s been to win a major. Being able to see that at a young age, and say, hey, I want to get one of those. Seeing Jordan (Spieth) do it when I was in college and obviously Scottie (Scheffler) now. You know, I think playing in these events, you need a lot of results, and at times you may be out of it but I know for sure I’ll get one.
Price, a longtime PGA of America Rules Official, agreed the time for Zalatoris to shine is coming soon.
“He’s confident, he’s ready and most importantly he’s experienced in major championships. That’s the most important thing in these tournaments,” Price said.
Zalatoris got into the three- hole playoff with Justin Thomas by birdieing the par 4 17th hole and delivering a clutch par putt on 18. He and Thomas tied the first playoff hole then Thomas drove the green on the 17th in playoff, made birdie and hung on for the win.
“I was ready to celebrate, so ready. It would have be great.” Price said. “But I’m proud of him either way. I don’t think I’ll cry if he won, but would be so happy for him. Great kid, great family. Ready to win.”
The two spent time on the first tee both Thursday and Friday as Price served as the first hole starter, then talked after every round like they have for nearly a decade.
“DP will always be number one for me,” said Zalatoris earlier in the year. “Without his help and mentorship I would not be the player or person I am. I can never repay him for that.”
He said the result at Southern Hills would spur him on for the rest of the 2022 season and beyond.
“Pretty proud of the result that I had. I think yesterday was really the day that looking back on it. I was pretty frustrated with that round. The first nine holes I thought was a really good experience, especially going forward.
“Especially after missing the cut last week, I’m obviously pretty proud to be sitting in this position considering Saturday, never thought I would have been standing here.
“So pretty excited where my game is at for sure and like I said earlier, I know I’m going to get one. Just a matter of time.
Price said he agreed and only hopes he’ll be there in person when it finally happens.
“Will has excelled in every level he has ever played in. He when I saw him at 12-13, he excelled in high school, college, this doesn’t surprise me a all. He has always done this,” Price said. “It will only continue.”