BROOKLINE, Mass. — Will Zalatoris thought he had it.
Zalatoris had a 14-foot birdie putt to force a playoff against Matt Fitzpatrick as he stepped over his ball on the par-4 18th hole.
He thought the putt was going to drop when it was six feet away.
He thought it was going to help him claim his first.
Zalatoris, however, missed by the putt by inches. It helped Fitzpatrick claim the 2022 U.S. Open at The Country Club and marked the third runner-up finish in a major championship for the 25-year-old Zalatoris.
“I think this one probably is going to take a little bit more processing than that one,” Zalatoris said when asked about his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship last month. “Like I said, I’ve got no regrets. I thought I played great all week, especially getting off to the start that I did today.
“It stings obviously. Obviously to have three runner-ups so far in my career in majors, but keep knocking on that door,” Zalatoris said.
Zalatoris finished one stroke back of Hideki Matsuyama in the 2021 Masters and took Justin Thomas to a playoff in the 2022 PGA Championship before the overtime defeat. On Sunday, he finished in a tie for second with World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler. Both carded a 5-under par 275, one stroke back of Fitzpatrick at 6-under 274.
Zalatoris held a two-stroke lead over Fitzpatrick after the par-3 11th hole. Zalatoris converted on a birdie putt while Fitzpatrick three-putted to card a bogie. It was one of the five birdies for Zalatoris, including a frontside stretch with birdies on the par-3 6th, par-4 7th and par-4 9th. His birdie on the 11th put him at 6-under on the tournament before bogies on the par-4 12th and par-4 15th.
Fitzpatrick converted a pair of crucial birdie putts on the backside, but it was his approach shot on the 18th that helped him fend off Zalatoris.
“Matt’s shot on 18 is going to be shown probably for the rest of U.S. Open history because that — I walked by it, and I thought that going for it was going to be ballsy, but the fact that he pulled it off and even had a birdie look was just incredible,” Zalatoris said of Fitzpatrick. “So hat’s off to him. He played great all week obviously and gave a solid round today.”
Zalatoris, though, knows it’s up to him to keep battling.
“I guess I’ve got to just keep doing what I’m doing,” Zalatoris said. “It’s just little things. It’s not the same thing at every single (major). 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.”
Zalatoris will have another chance to win his first major when heading to the Old Course at St. Andrews for the Open Championship in June.