The FedEx Cup playoffs started again in an exciting fashion. For the second consecutive season, the first postseason event needed additional holes. In a three-hole battle between Sepp Straka and Will Zalatoris, it was Zalatoris who was victorious after what can only be described as a bizarre playoff.
After pars traded on the 18th to start additional holes, the two returned to the tee. Zalatoris missed his shot on a tee correctly, and it could have gone off limits easily. Meanwhile, Straka found danger – narrowly avoiding the water lining the left side of the fairway in the process. Both would eventually make funky pars, but that’s where things would stop looking normal.
With the Zalatoris tee shot found (And stay inexplicablyThe Rocks in Danger at 11 par-3 set the stage for Straka to win his second PGA Tour title of the season. However, in an amazing moment, he too found the penalty area. Straka couldn’t find the green with his third shot, and with his compound errors, Zalatoris’ first win was firmly in his grip.
It’s almost poetic that Zalatoris’ first trip to the PGA Tour winner’s circuit was in this way, as his path to his point of view was as unnatural as it came. While he is the holder of this year’s PGA Tour Rookie, producer Wake Forest was removed from last season in the FedEx Cup Playoffs because he was not a full-time member. Since then, he’s added heartbreak after heartbreak, losing in a playoff to Justin Thomas at the PGA Championship and losing just one at the US Open.
Inevitably, I felt this would happen again after his shot on the tee on the final qualifying hole, but the golf gods had a way of stepping in. Just like Tony Finau and Xander Schauffele, the more one puts themselves down late on a Sunday, the more breaks — or should I say rebound — go their way.
This is especially true of Zalatoris, where it was not a question of ‘if’ he would win the PGA Tour, but rather ‘when’. His moment finally arrived at TPC Southwind. With the St. Jude Championship title, he rose to the top of the FedEx Cup standings. Now, he has the ability to follow in Patrick Cantley’s footsteps and run across the finish line in East Lake and lift the FedEx Cup crown. Grade: A +
Here is the distribution of the rest of the leaderboard for the St. Jude Championship 2022
2 – Seb Straca (-15): With the week approaching six lost cuts in a row, if I had told Straka he would have a 9 iron on hand with a chance of winning the championship, he would have taken it in a heartbeat. He showed tremendous determination along his stretch, hitting clutch shot after clutch shot to match Zalatoris, who was in the group ahead of him. In the end, it wasn’t meant to be, but his play showcases the sinister depth currently on the PGA Tour. It also states that a player’s fortunes can change in any given week. Grade: A +
T3. Lucas Glover: He was #121 at the start of the St. Jude Championships and would leave Memphis outside the top 50 in the FedEx Cup standings. Without finishing in the top 20 since the Texas Open in April, the former US Open champion played his best golf this season at the most crucial moment. While his ghost on the 72nd hole might make dinner taste a bit nasty, in the grand scheme of the post-season, he was a pretty grumpy performance.
“It’s cute,” Glover said. “Sort of a similar situation a couple of years ago and it was, you know, a good week and a half and ended up in Atlanta. That was kind of in the back of my head and I thought, you know, I have to get to the next week and then everybody gets a chance.” Grade: A +
T5. Tony Fino (-11): In an effort to become the first man to successfully defend a title in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, Finau put in a great deal of effort. After winning his third straight start, the four-time PGA Tour winner should be on the shortlist of potential players to lift the trophy in East Lake. As was the case last month, Finau’s match was strong throughout the bag and could be on the cusp of post-season. Grade: A
T5. Adam Scott (-11): He entered Week 77 in the FedEx Cup standings and played well inside the top 70 with his top five score. The Australian didn’t play much throughout the 2021-22 regular season, and the game plan proved fruitful. He should have a lot in the tank as he looks to climb into the top 30 next week in the BMW Championship before serving as a veteran attendee for the international team at the Presidents Cup in September.
“I played really bad yesterday and somehow scored a good result, to turn it around and play really hard today and give myself a chance to qualify,” Scott said. “I’m happy with that. I’m going to play four rounds next week. And my golf was really good, and I didn’t get anything. I feel even though I didn’t win this event, I feel like I’m getting something out of the week, so hopefully it’s good for confidence Next week, and somehow we’ll have a big week and get to East Lake.” Grade: A
T5. John Ram (-11): The former world number one had a quiet season with just one victory, but he could be on his way to something. After completing the St. Jude’s Tour 4-under 66, Rahm earned another top-10 result in the FedEx Cup qualifiers and might be one to watch in the BMW Championship. It was his steady personal nature from the tee to the green around TPC Southwind, and the lack of knowledge of course for the players at Wilmington Country Club may aid his efforts on the greens for the competition. Grade: B +
T13. Cameron Smith (-9): He was a favorite for overnight betting, but even before he hit the golf ball, Smith saw his name drop from 11-under to 9-under. Assessing a two-stroke penalty 30 minutes before his start time on Sunday for an inappropriate drop during his third round, the golfer of the year champion was immediately placed behind the eight-ball. He did his best to ignore the matter as he was making a birdie in the opening hole, but eventually stopped. It would have been a big day for Smith; With his victory, he would have climbed to the world number one and FedEx No. 1, and would be the banned candidate for the Player of the Year title. Instead, he will have to wait until next week for another chance to achieve such feats. B degree
T13. Justin Thomas (-9): The 2020 winner at TPC Southwind never threatened the leaders, a poor third round being the loss for him. After opening with back-to-back runs of 67, Thomas signed 1 on 71 on Saturday. Despite the disappointment, the former FedEx Cup champion should take a lot of positives in the final two weeks of the season. Thomas finished 20th on the 4th, finished 4th in two strokes and got the green tee thanks to great efforts off the tee and around the green. If he’s going to test a model effort with his irons next week, he should have a realistic chance of winning his second BMW. B-grade