Will Zalatoris surpasses KFT season earnings with U.S. Open T-6

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Will Zalatoris received a hefty overnight deposit after cracking the top 10 in a major for the first time in his career.

The 24-year-old received some attention with his ace during the opening round of the U.S. Open, but his weekend play was equally impressive. Zalatoris shot 70-71 over the final two rounds in difficult conditions to move all the way up to a tie for sixth at 5 over. He finished the week alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, and his top-10 finish means he’s exempt for next year’s U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.

Flagstick denies Will Zalatoris of his second hole-in-one of day

“I just found out that obviously top 10 gets us into next year, too, so that’s obviously pretty exciting,” Zalatoris said Sunday. “I’ve been really working hard over the past couple of years, and nice to finally see it pay off on the big stage.”

Zalatoris earned a spot in the all-exempt field at Winged Foot by virtue of his performance this year on the Korn Ferry Tour, where he tops the circuit in both season-long points and earnings. He had been on a tear since the COVID-19 break, finishing T-19 or better in all 11 starts since June including six top-5 results and a win.

But Zalatoris’ result in one of the most lucrative tournaments of the year highlights the disparity in pay between the biggest events and those on the developmental circuit. In 16 Korn Ferry starts this year, while distancing himself as the circuit’s best player, Zalatoris has made a total of $403,978. For his T-6 performance at Winged Foot, he eclipsed that total and cashed a check for $424,040.

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Because of adjustments to qualifying stemming from the pandemic, Zalatoris likely won’t be able to play full-time on the PGA Tour until the start of the 2021-22 season. But he’ll have a spot start this week at the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic, where a win would earn him automatic PGA Tour status, and he’s hoping to receive a few more similar opportunities in the coming months after acquitting himself well in a major.

“I’m playing Puntacana (this) week. We’ve got two more events on the Korn Ferry Tour between now and the end of the year,” Zalatoris said. “Hopefully I’ll get a couple more (PGA) Tour starts between now and the end of the year.”