Key takeaways from historic 2022 U.S. Open at The Country Club originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
BROOKLINE, Mass. -- Will Zalatoris just can't get over the hump in major championships.
The 25-year-old star from Wake Forest finished runner up at the 2022 U.S. Open at The Country Club on Sunday. He had a 14-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to force a playoff with Matt Fitzpatrick, but it just missed.
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Zalatoris now has six top 10 finishes in nine career major tournament appearances. He has finished twice three times, including the 2021 Masters and the last two majors in 2022.
U.S. & World
He's really, really close to breaking through. But despite the frustrating finishes, Zalatoris remains quite confident he will win one of these events in due time.
"I guess I've got to just keep doing what I'm doing," Zalatoris said after Sunday's final round in Brookline. "Frankly, at the PGA was kind of a -- I wouldn't say a surprise, but it was considering where I was Monday through Wednesday, the fact I had a chance to win and making those putts coming in was pretty nice.
"It's just little things. It's not the same thing at every single one. We're talking inches. It's not like I finished runner-up by four or five a few times. It's been one for all three. So I've just got to keep doing what I'm doing. I've got to keep knocking on the door because eventually -- like I said earlier, the comfort level is there.
"I'm not afraid to be in the lead. I've got nothing to lose out here. So let's just keep doing what we're doing and eventually we're going to get one."
Zalatoris was in great position after the 11th hole. He had just birdied to move to 6-under. Fitzpatrick bogeyed the hole to fall to 4-under. A two-stoke lead with seven holes to play? Zalatoris was in command, but he bogeyed No. 12 and a poor approach shot on No. 15 that found the left bunker led to another bogey. All of a sudden, Zalatoris found himself trailing by two shots entering No. 16. He birdied No. 16, but the deficit was too much to overcome.
"I'm three shots away from practically being a -- having a chance of being a three-time major champion," Zalatoris said. "A bounce here or there. This week my driving was atrocious. I think part of that might have had a little bit to do with the hip. I thought that I -- the fact that how bad I drove it this week, to have a chance to win, I'm very pleased with.
"All the other times, it's been maybe missing a four- or five- or six-footer. I guess technically I didn't three-putt once this week, and I didn't have a double. Typically that leads to playing well in a U.S. Open. So that's something that -- the recipe's there. The game's there. Like I said, I've just got to wait my turn."
Here are some other takeaways from the week in Brookline:
--Even after a tough loss, Zalatoris showed great class and respect.
--Matt Fitzgerald's approach shot out of the bunker on the 18th hole will long live in U.S. Open lore. It helped set up a par putt that preserved his one shot lead over Will Zalatoris and his first major championship. Even Jack Nicklaus was mightily impressed.
--How do you put yourself in position to win the U.S. Open on Sunday? Hitting all but one green in regulation is a fantastic place to start. That's what you call a championship performance.
--It was an atrocious week for LIV Golf. Fifteen golfers from the rival tour competed in the U.S. Open and only Dustin Johnson, Richard Bland, Patrick Reed and Bryson DeChambeau made the cut. None of them finished under par. Johnson was LIV Golf's top scorer at 4-over.
Phil Mickelson came into the week as one of the headliners. This was his first tournament in the United States since January and his first since competing in LIV Golf's inaugural event in London the weekend before. Mickelson's press conference Monday was a disaster. He looked uncomfortable and didn't provide many good answers to the tough questions he received about LIV Golf.
Mickelson's performance on the course was even worse. He shot 12-over par.
--The fans at The Country Club provided plenty of energy and excitement at the grounds all week. Aside from two kids taking Jon Rahm's ball on the 18th hole during Thursday's first round, the crowd was pretty well behaved. A raucous atmosphere at an important sporting event is exactly what you'd expect in Boston.
"The environment out there was definitely intense," Scottie Scheffler said. "There was a lot of people. There was a lot of screaming. It was a lot of fun to be a part of."
--Keegan Bradley was the hometown favorite all week, with fans giving him some of the loudest ovations and chanting "Keegan! Keegan! Keegan!" as he walked up to the 18th green on Saturday and Sunday. He entered the final round two shots behind the leaders but ended the tournament at 1-under. Despite the difficult finish, it was an experience Bradley will never forget.
"I think it's one of the best golf courses in the world, and alongside probably the best sports fans in the world. Combine those two, and you get this out here," Bradley explained.
"The Country Club is spectacular. I absolutely loved it. It's my favorite U.S. Open venue I've ever played. Any time you get to play a tournament in Boston, it's electric. The fans are the best."
--The course at The Country Club drew rave reviews from golfers all week. They praised its design, history and challenging nature, among other aspects. Zalatoris said Saturday it's the toughest course he's ever played.
Just nine golfers finished the tournament under par, compared to 12 in last year's U.S. Open.
--Hideki Matsuyama finished fourth at 3-under after putting together the best round of the tournament Sunday at 5-under par. The 2021 Masters champion now has nine top 10 finishes at majors.
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