2022 St. Jude Championship leaderboard, ratings: Will Zalatoris avoids surprise playoff with first PGA Tour win

The FedEx Cup playoffs got off to another dramatic start. For the second straight season, extra holes were needed for the first postseason event. In a three-hole battle between Sepp Straka and Will Zalatoris, it was Zalatis who emerged victorious after what can only be described as a strange playoff.

After swapping pars on the 18th to start extra holes, they returned to play. Zalatis missed his first shot and could easily have gone out of bounds. In the meantime, Straka spotted the danger — narrowly avoiding the water lining the left side of the fairway. In the end, they would both make unconventional positions, but this is where things stopped being normal.

With the find of Zalatoris (and inexplicably remain) rocks in a hazard on the par-3 11th, it set the stage for Straka to claim his second PGA Tour title of the season. But in a stunning moment, he also found the penalty area. Straka couldn’t find the green on his third shot, and thanks to his putting mistakes, Zalatoris had his first win firmly in his grasp.

It’s almost poetic that Zalatoris’ first trip to the winner’s circle on the PGA Tour happened this way, because his path to his point was as abnormal as they come. Despite being the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, the Wake Forest product missed out on the FedEx Cup Playoffs last season because he was not a regular. Since then, he has added heartbreak after heartbreak, losing in a playoff to Justin Thomas at the PGA Championship and just missing one at the US Open.

It seemed inevitable that it would happen again after his tee shot on the final playoff hole, but the golf gods found a way to intervene. Like Tony Finau and Xander Schauffele, the more people position themselves late on Sunday, the more often the breaks – or should I say rebounds – come in handy.

This is especially true for Zalatoris, as the question was never “if” he would win on the PGA Tour, but rather “when.” His moment finally came at TPC Southwind. St. Jude’s title saw him climb to the top of the FedEx Cup standings. Now he has the potential to follow in Patrick Cantley’s footsteps and sprint across the finish line at East Lake and lift the FedEx Cup crown. Grade: A+

Here’s a breakdown of the rest of the 2022 St. Jude Championship leaderboard

2. Sepp Straka (-15): Coming into the week after missing six straight cuts, if you had told Strazi he would have a 9-iron in his hands with a chance to win the tournament, he would have taken it in a heartbeat. He showed tremendous determination in this stretch, landing clutch throw after throw to match Zalatoris who was in the group ahead of him. In the end, it wasn’t meant to be, but his game shows the ungodly depth that’s happening on the PGA Tour right now. It also shows that a player’s fortunes can change every week. Grade: A+

T3. Lucas Glover: He was No. 121 at the start of the St. Jude Championship and will keep Memphis outside the top 50 of the FedEx Cup standings. The former US Open champion, who hasn’t broken into the top 20 since the Texas Open in April, played his best golf of the season when it mattered most. While his battling putt on the 72nd hole might make his lunch a little sour, in the grand scheme of the postseason, it was an extremely cool performance.

“That’s good,” Glover said. “There was a couple of similar situations a few years ago, I had, you know, a good week and a half and I ended up in Atlanta. It was kind of in the back of my mind and I thought, you know, just have to get it by next week and then everybody gets a chance.” Grade: A+

T5. Tony Finau (-11): Trying to become the first man to successfully defend a title in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, Finau put in a big effort. The four-time PGA Tour winner nearly won in his third straight start should be on the short list of potential players to lift the trophy at East Lake. As has been the case over the past month, Finau’s play has been strong throughout and could be on the cusp of a postseason run. Grade: A

T5. Adam Scott (-11): He enters week 77 in the FedEx Cup standings and has played well inside the top 70 with a top 5 finish. The Australian didn’t play much during the 2021-22 regular season, and the game plan proved fruitful. He should have plenty left in the tank as he looks to break into the top 30 next week at the BMW Championship before serving as the International Team veteran at the Presidents Cup in September.

“I played really bad yesterday and somehow got a decent score and to turn things around and play hard today and give myself a chance to go through,” Scott said. “I’m happy with that. I’ll play four rounds next week. And my golf was pretty good and I didn’t get anything out of it. I feel like even without winning this event, I feel like I’m getting something out of this week, so , hopefully it’s good for confidence next week and kind of having a big week and getting to East Lake.” Grade: A

T5. John Rahm (-11): The former world number one has had a quiet season with just one win, but he may be on to something. Finishing his St. Jude Championship with a round of 4-under 66, Rahm grabbed another top-10 finish in the FedEx Cup Playoffs and may be one to watch at the BMW Championship. He’s been regular, confident from tee to green around TPC Southwind, and his lack of knowledge of Wilmington Country Club’s players’ courses could help his efforts on the green compared to the competition. Grade: B+

T13. Cameron Smith (-9): He was the betting favorite overnight, but without even hitting a golf ball, Smith saw his name drop from 11 to 9. After receiving a two-stroke penalty 30 minutes before tee time on Sunday for an improper drop during of his third round, the Champion Golfer of the Year was immediately placed behind the eight. He did his best to shake it off when he birdied his opening hole, but eventually stalled. It would be a big day for Smith; a win would move him to No. 1 in the world and No. 1 at FedEx, and he would be the overwhelming favorite to win Player of the Year. Instead, he will have to wait until next week for another opportunity to perform such feats. Grade: B

T13. Justin Thomas (-9): The 2020 winner at TPC Southwind never threatened the leaders as a poor third round proved to be his undoing. After opening with back-to-back rounds of 67, Thomas signed for a 1-over 71 on Saturday. Despite the disappointment, the former FedEx Cup champion should take plenty of positives into the final two weeks of the season. Finishing in the top 20, Thomas tied for fourth in putts to the green thanks to excellent efforts both off the tee and around the green. If he puts in a typical effort with his irons next week, he will have a real shot at winning his second BMW championship. Grade: B-

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