Zalatoris to miss out on Tour Championship

The final event on the PGA Tour calendar kicks off on Thursday, Aug. 25


Will Zalatoris will miss the President’s Cup.

Ian Steffensen, Sports Editor

While the landscape of golf has been quite contentious recently with the heated LIV Golf-PGA Tour Battle, the postseason finale of the FedEx Cup promises to be memorable as the best players will compete to claim the title at East Lake Golf Club next week. 

 Wake Forest alum Will Zalatoris led the first round of the FedEx Cup following his victory at the FedEx St. Jude Championship. 

“It’s hard to say, ‘About time’ when it’s your second year on tour, but it’s about time,” Zalatoris said. “Considering all those close finishes, it means a lot.”

Zalatoris made a splash on the PGA Tour in his first year. He finished second at his first Masters, one stroke behind champion Hideki Matsuyama. This year, Zalatoris continued to inch closer and closer to his first win on the PGA Tour with strong showings in each of the majors. In the PGA Championship, Zalatoris lost in a playoff to Justin Thomas, and in the U.S. Open his final putt on 18 burned past the cup which kept him from forcing a playoff. 

In the FedEx St. Jude Championship, Zalatoris was in a scenario he was all too familiar with: a three-hole playoff against Sepp Straka. Zalatoris struggled early on– though he put himself in tough positions he was still able to save himself and make par.  On the second playoff hole, Zalatoris sliced his drive right and ended up in the trees close to a boundary fence. He then pitched it out and made a 15-footer going into the final hole. 

The final hole was wild. The par-3, 11th hole at TPC Southwind was the final obstacle for Zalatoris. Flying over the water, Zalatoris’ ball landed short, hitting the rock bank and bouncing several times before nestling itself in the grass. Straka did the same, only his ball ricocheted off the rocks into the water. While Zalatoris had caught a huge break, his ball was in an unplayable lie and he hit from the drop zone along with Straka. Straka hit his next shot into the bunker while Zalatoris landed the green and was seven feet from the hole. Zalatoris made the winning putt and earned his first PGA Tour victory.

This week at the second round of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, the BMW Championship, Zalatoris looked to build on his momentum from the previous event. His first win moved him to top of the FedEx Cup standings and up to No.9 in the world rankings. On Saturday, however, his momentum took a turn. Despite being one-under for the day and just four strokes back from the leader, Zalatoris hurt his back on the third hole. He received treatment before heading to the fourth hole, but the pain was too much and he was forced to withdraw from the tournament, and will sadly also miss out on the final event, the Tour Championship.

Cameron Young, another Wake Forest alum, has also had a great showing on the PGA Tour this year. Young tied for third at the PGA Championship and finished second at the Open Championship. He hopes to follow in his teammate’s footsteps and earn the coveted title of Rookie of the Year. 

Patrick Cantlay, winner of the 2021 FedEx Cup made a strong case for his title defense after winning the BMW Championship. Scottie Scheffler who leads in the standings, will have a significant advantage heading into the final round of the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club. Scheffler will start the tournament at ten under par, and Cantlay will start at eight under par. The event will then continue under normal scoring conditions. 

The ongoing power struggle between the PGA-Tour and LIV Golf has dominated this golf season. LIV Golf is expected to announce seven new signings following the conclusion of the FedEx Cup. One of these signings is rumored to be current Open Champion Cameron Smith who withdrew from the BMW Championship as well. Before the BMW Championship golfing legend Tiger Woods convened with other top players to discuss changing the PGA Tour. 

The proposed changes mirror some of the strategies of LIV Golf. There would be fewer tournaments, a consistent lineup of 60 of the top players, and larger earnings. Controversially, it would also feature no cuts, a signature facet of LIV Golf events. Another proposal was for the PGA Tour to renounce its status as a nonprofit organization. This change would allow more investors to partner with the Tour and give the PGA Tour the ability to compete with the LIV Golf prize money. These recent events show the changing landscape of professional golf, and how it is now adapt or die for the PGA Tour.