AUGUSTA, Ga. (Reuters) – Will Zalatoris had been waiting for his Masters moment his entire life and when it came on Sunday, not even golf’s biggest stage was enough to intimidate the fearless 24-year-old American finishing solo second one shot behind winner Hideki Matsuyama.
Zalatoris arrived at the year’s first major as a little known commodity on the PGA Tour, but departs Augusta National heralded as sport’s newest rising star.
Displaying veteran poise and confidence, Zalatoris remained focused throughout, refusing to be overwhelmed by the moment. He produced four under par rounds, including a two-under 70 final round that left him one haunting stroke short of forcing a playoff for the champion’s Green Jacket.
“I wanted to be on this stage forever, basically my entire life, so I think if anything you get to this moment and why should I wait now, let’s go do some damage and it was a fun week,” said Zalatoris, who gained late entry to the Masters with his top-50 world ranking. “I felt I played well this week but I left a lot out there.
“I think the fact that I’m frustrated I finished second in my third major says something, and the fact that I didn’t let any moment really get to me, was really exciting.
“I think, if anything, it’s just the fact that I’m one shot short. It’s just kind of sitting right in front of me, thinking through where I could have found that one or two shots, really.”
Zalatoris might anguish over two bogeys that came just after the turn that dropped him down the leaderboard.
No doubt he would want his tee shot back on the 12th and a redo on the five-foot putt that would have saved par.
His putter also deserted him on the 10th where he made the green in two but needed three putts to get in the hole, taking another bogey.
“It was an absolute treat,” said Zalatoris summing up his Masters debut. “Obviously to come up one short and be disappointed is motivating but obviously very exciting.
“And obviously my two majors as a pro, I finished sixth and runner-up. I know if I keep doing what I doing, I’m going to have a really good chance in the future.”
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Lincoln Feast.)