by Jack Persons, AmateurGolf.com
TULSA, Okla. (July 10, 2014) --While the U.S. Senior Open went off without a hitch down the road in Edmond, Okla., the players at the Trans-Miss barely got in a single hole of golf on Thursday.
Courtesy of a constant threat of rain and lightning, the last 36 holes of the Trans-Mississippi Championship at Southern Hills Country Club were cancelled, and 17-year-old Will Zalatoris of Plano, Texas, who finished the second round with a one-stroke lead, emerged victorious.
"It's mixed emotions, because I rather would have played golf today," Zalatoris said in an interview with the Trans-Miss Golf Association (TMGA). “I wanted the experience of playing under pressure. One day I hope to play professional golf and this is part of that process.”
Zalatoris, an incoming freshman at Wake Forest, shot a two-round total of five-under 135, one better than runner-up Alex Franklin of San Rafael, Calif. and Oregon State.
After strong first-round 67s, Zalatoris and Franklin were tied for the lead. The second round ended up making all the difference.
A tough start for Franklin in the second round led to a front-nine two-over 37, but he managed to charge back with an incoming 32 to post 69 and take the clubhouse lead at four-under 136.
Zalatoris, who teed off after Franklin finished, also started slow, bogeying his third and fourth holes of the day, but rebounded quicker. He birdied three of his next six holes and made all pars on the final eight to fire a 68. His one-stroke lead ended up as the winning margin.
Matt Gilchrest of Southlake, Texas finished in solo third place at two-under 138, while a group of three players including U.S. Open qualifier Brian Campbell tied for fourth at one-under 139.
Defending champion Bryson Dechambeau finished tied for 21st at three-over 143.
The players waited all morning at Southern Hills for the skies to clear and for tournament officials to resume play, but midway through the wait, it was decided that the fourth round of the event would not be played, shortening the tournament to only 54 holes. It got worse from there.
While play resumed in the afternoon after nearly six hours of delays, the competitors only got in a half-hour of golf before more lightning moved in.
Officials eventually had to call it a tournament with no chance of finishing 54 holes before dark, which gave Zalatoris the title.
Runner-up Franklin was one of many who would have liked a chance at the title on Thursday.
"It's bittersweet for me," Franklin told the TMGA. "Obviously you want a chance to win that trophy, and this course is so awesome that I wanted to keep playing it. But it's definitely still a 'win' for me. I didn't have very good form coming into this week, so I'm very happy with how I played. There are a ton of positives to take away.”
With the victory, Zalatoris earned an exemption into next year’s Air Capital Classic on the Web.com Tour.
Count Zalatoris as one of the lucky few to hoist the Trans-Miss trophy before a lottery ticket.
The Trans-Mississippi Golf Association is one of the oldest and most prestigious golf organizations in the United States. They also conduct a Senior Championship as well as a Four-Ball Championship. More importantly, they offer the Turf Scholarship, which grants $63,000 in educational scholarships each year to young men and women pursuing careers as golf course superintendents. Find out more about their events and charitable focus at www.trans-miss.com.