Will Zalatoris says his excitement levels are “off the charts” ahead of The 150th Open at St Andrews as he bids to win his maiden Major Championship after a number of close calls so far in his career.
The 25-year-old has finished second in each of the other three Majors, including at this year’s US PGA Championship – where he lost a three-hole play-off to Justin Thomas – and the U.S. Open when he finished one stroke behind Matt Fitzpatrick.
Zalatoris, who currently leads the DP World Tour Rankings in Partnership with Rolex from Fitzpatrick, also finished second at the Masters Tournament in 2021.
He arrives at the Home of Golf understandably full of confidence in his game as he aims to make his Major breakthrough.
“The excitement level this week is off the charts,” said Zalatoris, who turned professional in 2018. “I’ve obviously been very close, specifically in the last two Majors. But my game is in a great place, and I am in a great head space.”
Another second place spot this week would see the American follow golfing greats Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson, in finishing as runner-up in all four Majors.
Asked whether he could imagine taking any comfort in another near-miss, Zalatoris replied: “Of course I want to win one, but the part I also have to remind myself is we're sitting here talking about me not winning a Major, and I've been on the PGA TOUR for 20 months. It's a pretty good spot to be in.
“I'm obviously playing some nice golf. I'm not even in double digit Majors, and we're talking about me having four runners-up. I think I'll take that resume, but obviously I'd like to replace some of the silver medals with some gold medals.”
Zalatoris is making only his second Open appearance, after being forced to withdraw last year at Royal St George’s with a back injury.
Reflecting on his preparations so far this week ahead of his first competitive appearance on the Old Course, Zalatoris revealed he is excited by the challenge that the famed par-four 17th will provide.
“It's amazing how you can really hit a shot left of the Old Course Hotel logo, and if it's cutting, it's in the fairway,” he said of the Road Hole.
“And you can also hit one high and about 30 feet right of that logo and still be almost in the exact same spot. It's pretty unique.
“I love being able to hit that burning cut, so I will never say that hitting over a hotel is an ideal look for me, but that shot actually sets up for me pretty well.”
Meanwhile, Scottie Scheffler believes he is flying under the radar ahead of the landmark staging of golf’s oldest Major as he bids to win his second Major Championship of the year.
The American rose to World Number One in the Official World Golf Ranking after he won the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship in March, shortly before his first Major title at the Masters Tournament in April - his fourth victory in a span of six starts.
Scheffler subsequently missed the cut at the US PGA Championship, but he finished alongside Zalatoris as runner-up at the U.S. Open last month.
“I don’t feel like there’s any extra attention on me,” said the 26-year-old who finished tied eighth on his Open debut at Royal St George’s last year. “I haven’t read much, but I would assume not everybody’s picking me to win this week.
“I don’t think I was the favourite maybe going into the Masters. I’m not sure if I’ve been the favourite maybe going into any tournaments. That may not be the true perception, that’s just mine.
“I don’t feel like there’s any more pressure on me. I’m showing up like everybody else trying to come here and play well at a golf tournament.”