Will Zalatoris has enjoyed one of the best seasons of any player on the PGA Tour in 2021. The 24-year-old rookie finished solo second in his debut at the Masters, has eight top-10 finishes in 24 starts, and skyrocketed up the OWGR to become the 29th-ranked player in the world.
But despite all that, Zalatoris won’t receive an invite to the upcoming FedEx Cup playoffs unless he wins the Wyndham Championship this weekend because of an idiotic PGA Tour rule.
Will Zalatoris isn’t eligible for the FedEx Cup playoffs
Zalatoris has been one of the best stories on the PGA Tour this year. He was in line to receive a Tour card for the 2020-21 season, but COVID-19 thwarted his path to the premier circuit in professional golf.
Because of all the canceled tournaments last year, the Player Advisory Council and Policy Board decided no PGA Tour cards would be given out or taken away prior to the current season. That meant Zalatoris, who would’ve earned a promotion via The Last 25 on the Korn Ferry Tour, couldn’t become a full-time member of the PGA Tour in 2020-21.
He did, however, secure a Special Temporary Membership this season, meaning he could compete in unlimited PGA Tour events as long as he received sponsor’s exemptions to tournaments. And boy, did he take advantage of that.
Zalatoris finished T6 at last year’s U.S. Open, solo second at the 2021 Masters, and T8 at the 2021 PGA Championship thanks to exemptions. He’s recorded eight top-10 finishes and 14 top-25 finishes this season as a temporary member of the PGA Tour. Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, and Bryson DeChambeau all have fewer.
The Wake Forest product has also earned more than $3.4 million on Tour this year.
Even still, Zalatoris isn’t eligible to compete in the FedEx Cup playoffs because he’s not a full-time member of the Tour. He has one final opportunity to change that.
Zalatoris must win the Wyndham Championship to punch his playoff ticket
This weekend’s Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club is the final event of the PGA Tour regular season. After the final round wraps up on Sunday, the top 125 players in the FedEx Cup standings will move on to the playoffs and secure their PGA Tour cards for the 2021-22 season.
Zalatoris would be well within the top 125 at 26th in the points race, but he still won’t be teeing it up in the postseason this year.
Well, unless he wins this weekend.
You see, since Zalatoris isn’t a full-time member of the PGA Tour this season, he isn’t a part of the season-long race for the FedEx Cup. He would have 1,270 FedEx Cup points heading into the regular-season finale at Sedgefield, but he really has zero because of the foolish rule.
The only way Zalatoris can sneak into the playoffs is to win a PGA Tour event this season. He hasn’t done so in 2021, leaving the Wyndham Championship as his final chance to lift a trophy and play his way into the postseason.
The PGA Tour should make an exception for the young star
It’s patently ridiculous that Zalatoris won’t have a chance to compete for the ultimate prize on the PGA Tour this season. He isn’t just some rookie on the bubble of the top 125 hoping to lock up his Tour card for next season. He’s already done that. At 26th place in the points standings, he would be a legitimate threat to win the FedEx Cup with three solid performances in the postseason.
The PGA Tour needs to give Zalatoris the opportunity he deserves, and fellow pros couldn’t agree more.
“He deserves to be there,” PGA Tour veteran Webb Simpson said this week, per Golfweek. “The only reason he’s not there is because of the way the rule is written, but I feel like I speak for pretty much all the players that I’ve talked to at least that Will should be in New York next week and it stinks that he won’t be unless he wins.”
It’s unlikely that Zalatoris receives a personal exemption to compete in the playoffs this year, but if enough top-tier players lobby for the young star, you never know.
Either way, we’re all Will Zalatoris fans this week.
All stats courtesy of PGA Tour