Zalatoris could complete golf’s second slam at British Open

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) — Will Zalatoris has the chance to join illustrious company at the British Open. It’s just not for the reason he would like.

Zalatoris is one of the finalists after completing a second career slam – placing second in all four major tournaments. Jack Nicklaus did. Just like Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson.

The difference is that these guys have won major tournaments galore and Zalatoris, 25, has never won a tournament on the PGA Tour.

“I’m not even in double-digit majors, and we’re talking about me having four finalists in majors here,” Zalatoris said. “I think I’ll take that resume, but obviously I’d like to replace some of the silvers with golds.”

Zalatoris turned professional in 2018 and has only played in nine majors so far, but he is already starting to become a constant contender.

He first finished second at the Masters in 2021. Then he lost a three-hole playoff to Justin Thomas at this year’s PGA Championship and followed that up with a US Open runner-up spot behind Matt Fitzpatrick.

Another second place finish would place him in this jaw-dropping endeavor. Palmer, Nicklaus and Watson have all completed their second slams having already won a major tournament. The first to achieve the feat, Craig Wood, managed to finish second in every major before winning one at the Masters in 1941.

“For me, let’s continue to grow on this experience,” Zalatoris said. “I obviously play good golf.”

This week would be a good time to knock out that early win. Not only is it a major tournament, but it’s also the British Open at St. Andrews on the 150th anniversary of the tournament.

For the game of golf, it doesn’t get much grander.

“The level of excitement this week is obviously off the charts,” Zalatoris said. “I’ve obviously been very close, especially in the last two majors. But the game is in a great place and a big headspace. It’s a lot of fun.

However, the good times can be fleeting through four laps on the Old Course. Bunkers, hills, hollows – anything can wreak havoc or make a champion.

Zalatoris is trying to absorb as much as he can before the tournament starts on Thursday.

“Once you figure it out, you don’t,” he said.

Zalatoris has played in a British Open before, last year’s tournament at Royal St. George’s. He shot a 69 in the first round and retired with an injury.

Then came his close calls this year in back-to-back majors after finishing tied for sixth at the Masters.

Coming down from these high points proved to be a difficult task.

“It’s funny. I don’t sleep so well on Sunday nights,” Zalatoris said. While I’m playing, I don’t feel it. When I was in those last two holes against Matt or even in the playoffs with Justin, I don’t feel that big of an adrenaline rush. Obviously I want to win. I am as focused as possible, but it is the descent that is difficult for me.

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