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U.S. Open 2022: Will Zalatoris’ rise, Rory McIlroy’s agony among final takeaways from The Country Club

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BROOKLINE, Massachusetts. It could be argued that the man who hasn’t scored a single PGA Tour win in his career is the best golfer in the world that year. Golf, man, is fucking weird.

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Will Zalatoris is five steps away from holding three major championship trophies. Golf balls have been bowled 86,642 times in his three runner-up finishes at the 2021 Masters, PGA Championship 2022 and US Open 2022, and if five of the correct balls had gone differently, Zalatoris would have had as many big trophies as Hale Irwin and Jordan Spit. He had three-quarters of the way to a career Grand Slam.

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Of course, it all works differently, but it must be disappointing that in 2022, holding the lead in the 2022 major championship is 13 points less than two over Rory McIlroy and you have nothing to show. .

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“I think this one will probably take a little longer to process than that one,” Zalatoris said. “Like I said, I don’t regret anything. I thought I played great all week, especially at the beginning, which I did [Sunday]. Of course, it’s a shame that I already have three second places in the majors in my career. But keep knocking on that door. Obviously we are doing the right thing. I would pay a lot of money for an inch and a half and probably be a three time world champion at that stage. We’ll just keep doing what we’re doing.”

It’s extremely hard to come to terms with the fact that the top two big golfers this year are still empty-handed, but if golf were rewarded with cumulative points, the Saturday and Sunday agony of the big tournament would be meaningless. I’m not sure how people who played golf 100 years ago got it right, but 72 holes (not 54!) seems enough to weed out contenders, but not so much that wear and tear starts to build up. In other words, it’s perfect.

A month later, Zalatoris should enter the top five favorites of the Open Championship in St. Andrews. Part of that is because his statistical profile this year is unmatched in the main categories, but another part may not have been shown on your TV on Sunday.

Although he looks like a featherweight, Zalatoris plays like a heavyweight. Those moments certainly didn’t come out the way he wanted, but it wasn’t for lack of courage. The lead at the US Open is about as uncomfortable as it gets, but Zalatoris couldn’t have felt better at home. The look in his eyes, the leap in step. Not every flasher is created equal, and Zalatoris has a burn that can’t be fired on its own and can hardly be described.

In a game filled with frequent contenders, he looks like the ultimate champion. It doesn’t mean he’s going to win, which is the madness of this sport, but it does mean that all those losses are just fueling the fire.

The lightest golfer has real weight on the top leaderboards. He may not win at the Old Course in July – he may never win the Major! – but in a world where not all runners-up finishers are created equal, Zalatoris has proven as many losses as most have proven with wins.

Here are nine other takeaways from the 122nd US Open.

1. Another missed opportunity: What happens if McIlroy wins another major? I’ve been thinking about this a lot this week and he hinted at it on Friday night when he hinted that he has a very different career than the one that started Rory Inc. After the second round of the US Open, he said that he had won another major tournament at that tournament. a point would be almost like his first win, and you know, the emotion that would arise if he took fifth would make his Ryder Cup tears look like he was laughing.

Will it ever come? This week has been confusing. He washed it for several months, and it was one of the truly wonderful weeks of his life. However, he did not win. It is easy to lose faith or point to mental blockages as the cause of your dryness. Perhaps this is true; maybe it’s not. It’s hard to understand. Perhaps, early in his career, the big variance was so heavily biased in his favor that we are confused about his profile as a golfer. Perhaps he does too. Maybe he just needs to short the irons for the next 30 days.

What I do know for sure is that McIlroy remains the unrivaled theatre. I said on Thursday after Rory shot 67 that his game gives seriousness to his sports words and gravity rules the world. The reverse is also true. His words give depth to his game and make him the easiest player in the world to cheer on. There are so few athletes who combine outstanding humanity, genuine thoughtfulness and the talent of a generation.

Many have asked“Why do I keep coming back when I already know what’s going to happen and that it won’t be what I want?” Although there is no one like him. Maybe not in all sports. Perhaps there are more thoughtful pros and certainly better talents. But no more thoughtful as well as more talented athletes. The real question is not why we keep coming back for more, but rather, “How could you not?”

2. Eleven lit: Brooklyn has been my favorite US Open course since Shinnecock in 2018, and my favorite hole was a short and tricky 11th. USGA CEO Mike Wang enthusiastically discussed the course while standing with some of us on Friday: “Wait until you see how it works over the weekend.” Although they didn’t cut his distance to double figures, he still almost played to under 100 due to pin position and wind. There aren’t many better big championship holes than No. 11 in Brooklyn, and it’s been showing up all week.

3. Are Brooks Cooked? After Kepka claimed on Friday that he was disliked for his self-confidence (what… what?!), Kepka went down hard on the weekend with a 75-77 final hit. This was a departure from the US Open Brooks and perhaps a sign that his days of big wins were over. Koepka is still young enough to win a few more, of course, but injuries have always been a concern for him, and chances are he just got sick over a three-year period and won every major tournament he was ever going to win.

This would not be unprecedented. Many multiple big winners have done it in a compressed period of time. (Think of Padraig Harrington, who won three tournaments in two years, or even Arnold Palmer, who won all seven of his tournaments in just six years.) A year after Koepka finished in the top six in three of the four major tournaments, Koepka was no higher than 55th place in the first tournament. three this year. Since 2013, he has not gone a single year without a top 10. It may mean nothing, but it could also mark the beginning of Cap’s demise as a major contender for the championship for the rest of his career.

4. World No. 1 as an emblem: There have been some changes this year in terms of the generation that competes in major championships. The oldest player in the top six this week was McIlroy, who is 33 years old. McIlroy was also the second-youngest in the top eight at the PGA Championship, as well as the second-youngest in the top nine at the Masters, where he finished as a running back. -up. Most of the top players in the first three majors were in their 20s, and Scotty Scheffler, now with T2 at the greenjacketed US Open, is the spokesman for that movement.

And while the younger generation sometimes lacks the excitement on the course, like the young Tiger Woods (obviously) and maybe even the young McIlroy, they also seem to be wiser and more mature than any golf generation has in a long time. This week, both Zalatoris and Scheffler spoke with a charm and perspective that is rare in sports and a pleasure to talk about.

“My wife asked me last night when I got home, ‘What three emotions did you experience today?'” Scheffler said Saturday night. “I thought, ‘Well, I played golf today, so I was happy and sad.’ And so every time I play golf from now on, I will be either happy or sad. That’s the nature of the game.”

Scheffler doesn’t usually cause excitement as a golfer, but like many golfers of his age, there is something more intriguing deep under the surface than he lets on. He flashed it at the Masters when he admitted to crying the morning before his final round, and while the support for this group of 20-year-olds is different from some of the bands of yesteryear, they are still a fascinating group to talk about even if it’s not. so. doesn’t seem as obvious as it used to be.

5. Fatal flaw: One of the brightest memories associated with the first three major championships of the year is the start of the PGA Championship. On the long 14th par-3 hole, Collin Morikawa hit an iron that was hit in the air so fast it looked like a huge Dikembe Mutombo was floating in the sky. The toughest conditions this week in Brooklyn saw Morikawa move from a 36-hole co-lead to 77th on Saturday. He paired those 77s with a pair of 66s in calmer conditions, and while Morikawa wasn’t only destined to play well in the lightest weather, he could also miss out on strong enough…


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