TORONTO • Will Zalatoris is "over the moon" after he was named PGA Tour Rookie of the Year on Monday in a vote by his peers, following a season in which he counted a Masters runner-up spot among his eight top-10 finishes.
The 25-year-old American was selected for the Arnold Palmer Award over South African Garrick Higgo, making him the first PGA Tour special temporary member to win rookie of the year honours since Charles Howell III in 2001.
"This was something that two years ago wasn't even on my radar," he said at Silverado Resort in Napa, California, where he is competing in the PGA Tour's season opener this week.
"I guess when we were sitting around in Covid for four months this was not even a goal just because I didn't think I was going to be playing on the PGA Tour. The fact that I accomplished it, obviously over the moon."
Zalatoris earned a spot in the US Open last September after changes to the eligibility criteria and finished in a tie for sixth.
He competed in all four Majors this year, three World Golf Championships events and The Players Championship, with top-10 finishes in three of those outings.
He was also the only player to shoot under par in all four rounds at Augusta National in April but his bid to become the first Masters debutant since 1979 to slip on the Green Jacket came up short, as he ended one shot behind Japan's Hideki Matsuyama.
Meanwhile, the PGA Tour's Zozo Championship will be held in Japan as planned next month, organisers announced yesterday, after fears it could be moved for the second year running because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The inaugural edition of Japan's first PGA Tour event in 2019 was memorably won by Tiger Woods, but last year's tournament was moved to Thousand Oaks, California because of the virus.
A decision on whether fans will attend has yet to be taken.
This year's tournament will offer a US$9.95 million (S$13.4 million) purse, with an elite field of 78, though details of players have not yet been confirmed.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE