Will Zalatoris Profile
|Born||Aug 16, 1996|
|Birthplace||San Francisco, California, United States|
Will Zalatoris announced himself to the golfing world when finishing in the top six at the 2020 US Open before he had earned a PGA Tour card.
Will Zalatoris transformed his career in 2020, turning in a sensational season on the second tier Korn Ferry Tour and transferring that quality to the highest stage.
Zalatoris attended Wake Forest College, graduating in 2018 with a degree in psychology. He enjoyed golfing success at college level too.
After a sticky start to his career in the pro ranks his progress quickened in the year that the world slowed down and he earned Special Temporary Membership for the PGA Tour after the 2020 Bermuda Championship, a consequence of making the most of his limited opportunities.
At the 2020 US Open, Zalatoris finished tied sixth, confirming his reputation as one of the brightest young talents in the game of golf.
He then reiterated that impression with a dazzling tournament debut in the 2021 Masters, claiming solo second behind Hideki Matsuyama. Just over a year later he was second again in the PGA Championship.
Zalatoris won the 2014 US Junior Amateur and continued to impress on the golf course during his time at Wake Forest College, picking up the 2017 ACC Player of the Year prize.
But he acknowledges that he was not so focussed on the game as many of his rivals and it took some time for him to commit to the idea of becoming a full-time golfer.
With the decision made, he claimed a place on the 2017 US Walker Cup team where he starred with Collin Morikawa, Scottie Scheffler, Doc Redman, Doug Ghim and Cameron Champ.
Slow start in the pro ranks
Zalatoris turned professional in late 2018, but failed to make the second stage of the Korn Ferry Tour Q School.
It was a big blow to his hopes, leaving him reliant on sponsors exemptions and Monday qualifying, but perhaps it was also an early lesson in resilience and the power of determination.
In July 2019 he finished third at the KFT's LECOM Health Challenge and earned qualification for the rest of the season.
He finally had a foot on the ladder and, although he failed to graduate to the PGA Tour that year, he was set up for the swift progress that followed.
In his second season on the second tier in 2020 Zalatoris displayed remarkable consistency.
The final 11 of those appearances reaped nine top six finishes including victory in the TPC Colorado Championship.
"Finally," Zalatoris said after the win in July. "It's been probably four years since I won a golf tournament."
Zalatoris signalled his intent loud and clear by adding: "Job's not finished. The goal is to get on Tour and don't look back."
PGA Tour card earned
If Zalatoris had seemed immune to the difficulties of 2020, he couldn't avoid the PGA Tour's problems with merging the first and second tiers after disrupted seasons.
No matter. His stunning tied sixth finish in September's US Open earned him $424,040 and took a big step towards full-time status on the PGA Tour.
"I've been really working hard over the past couple of years, and nice to finally see it pay off on the big stage," he said.
He then opened the 2020-21 season with three top 25s in four starts to earn Special Temporary Member status and the top 25s continued to flow right up to and including his debut at THE PLAYERS Championship.
In the first-timers' press conference at TPC Sawgrass he said: "Just feel a lot of gratitude. If you told me I was going to be here after playing in the Korn Ferry event, I would have thought you were crazy."
"Commissioner Monahan was saying, 'Hey, I remember seeing you playing in the Korn Ferry event and here you are! That's pretty cool!' And I was like, 'Trust me, it's pretty cool from this point of view, too!' So yeah, like I said, just a lot of gratitude. It's pretty freaking cool!"
Zalatoris admitted that he did not fully expect his consistency on the Korn Ferry Tour to translate to PGA Tour level quite as well as it did.
"A little bit [surprised], but I think having that mindset that there's still 18 holes out there and everyone's playing a golf course and it doesn't matter if it's a Korn Ferry event or THE PLAYERS, it's all the same," Zalatoris said.
"I think that's really been ingrained in me over the past year, and I think that's why I've been so consistent at the different levels."
"If anything, I'm my worst critic. When you turn pro and you're doing Monday qualifiers and had a bunch of starts and I wasn't getting into anything. It's hard. You have to persevere. It's a tough sport in the sense of: no one is given their way to the top. It's always earned."
Making a Major impression
Two years after he had last played on the PGA Tour (he made eight appearances between 2015 and 2018, making one cut), Zalatoris finished sixth in the US Open at Winged Foot.
He maintained that momentum in his rookie season on the PGA Tour and seemed impervious to the pressure of playing with limited playing rights.
Never was that more apparent than when he landed solo second in the 2021 Masters, very nearly becoming the first Augusta debutant since 1979 to win a Green Jacket. He broke par in all four rounds.
He added a top 10 finish in the PGA Championship the following month and then, a year, later only missed out on a first PGA Tour win and Major breakthrough when defeated by Justin Thomas in a three-hole playoff in the same event at Southern Hills.
Zalatoris is reported to be in a relationship with Caitlin Sellers.
He is close to fellow golfer Davis Riley who he defeated in the US Junior Amateur final.
"He does a lot of things really well, but I just think he plays the game so well. He hits all these shots and plays pretty fearless. He just plays the game really well. It's really impressive," said Riley of Zalatoris. "He works hard and he's earned it."
Zalatoris also counts his family and coach Josh Gregory as being integral to his support system.
Zalatoris' US Open success saw him immediately surpass his Korn Ferry Tour season earnings at the time.
Through the 2021 PLAYERS, Zalatoris had earned over $1.7million in the 2020-21 season.
Will Zalatoris News
- May 23, 2022