Will Zalatoris – Player Profile

WILL-ZALATORISBorn on August 16, 1996, in San Francisco, California, William Patrick Zalatoris is a professional golfer as part of the PGA Tour and is currently ranked 31st in the world.

Amateur Career

After moving from California to Dallas, Texas with his parents, Richard, a pilot, and Catherine, a former member of the Oregon Ducks track and field team, Will Zalatoris attended high school at Tristian Christian Academy. At the age of twelve, Zalatoris would qualify for the 2009 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, the first of his five appearances at the event. As a four-year letterman for the Trojans, Zalatoris would lead his team to the Texas Private School State Championship in 2011 and 2013 and collect individual state championships in 2012 and 2013, while earning All-State, All-Region, and All-Conference awards from 2011 through 2014.

In his senior year of high school, Zalatoris would capture the 2014 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, defeating Davis Riley in the final match at The Club at Carlton Woods. In addition to his success on the course, Zalatoris also proved to succeed in the classroom, earning State All-Academic Team awards in 2013 and 2014 and being a member of the National Honor Society and National Spanish Honor Society.

College

Freshman Season:
Will Zalatoris attended Wake Forest University in North Carolina, where he would be granted the 2014 Arnold Palmer Scholarship during his freshman year with the Demon Deacons. Playing for coach Jerry Haas, Zalatoris would card a score of 73-72-71 and tie for 21st at the Carpet Capital Collegiate, his first college event. It would be Wake Forest’s next tournament at the Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate, in which Zalatoris, who shot -10 to win his first college event and the Demon Deacon’s second straight victory. Zalatoris would finish his first year with the Deacons with a streak of three top-ten finishes and a fourteenth-place finish at the ACC Championship.

Sophomore Season:
As only one of three team members to play in all of the team’s events, Will Zalatoris would lead the team with a 71.20 scoring average. With three top-five and eight top-ten finishes, the second-year star would achieve All-ACC honors and be named an Honorable Mention All-American. During the Rod Myers Invitational, Zalatoris’s birdie putt on the final hole would win both the team and individual championships. After finishing twenty-fifth at the ACC Championship, Zalatoris would move on to the NCAA Championship where he would qualify for the final round of medal play and finish tied for fifty-first overall.

Following the school season, Zalatoris, who would be a Jack Nicklaus Award semifinalist, received an exemption to compete in the PGA Tour Byron Nelson Classic and would also be a part of the U.S. Palmer Cup Team which competed in England. During the school offseason, Zalatoris would win both the Trans-Miss Championship and the Pacific Coast Amateur before advancing to the final sixty-four at the U.S. Amateur Championship.

Junior Season:
Zalatoris’s third season with the Demon Deacons would be his best and final full year at Wake Forest. Competing in all twelve of the team’s events of which he finished under par in nine, Zalatoris would post a scoring average of 70.14, which would be the third-best in school history.

Finishing the season with a top-five finish in both the ACC Championship and the NCAA Austin Regional, Zalatoris would qualify for the NCAA Championship. Not only would Zalatoris compete individually for the NCAA title, but he would be honored with being named the ACC Player of the Year, All-ACC, First-Team GCAA (Golf Coaches Association of America) All-American, First-Team Golfweek All-American, a Hogan Award semi-finalist, and a Nicklaus Award finalist.

Senior Season:
Continuing his success from his third season, Zalatoris would start the school year by competing in the 2017 Walker Cup, where he would win both of his singles matches and one of his team matches to help the U.S. squad to the championship. A couple of months later, Zalatoris would announce that he was passing on his final semester as a Demon Deacon in pursuit of his professional dreams. Zalatoris would leave Wake Forest with four individual championships, fifteen top-five finishes, twenty-four top-ten finishes, and a school-record scoring average of 70.44.

Professional Career

Officially turning professional at the start of the 2018 calendar year, Will Zalatoris missed the cut in the Farmers Insurance Open before bouncing back to finish sixty-eighth at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Zalatoris would compete in four more PGA Tour tournaments in 2018, missing the cut in each, including the U.S. Open, his first PGA Major event.

Although he would enter the 2019 season with no official status, Zalatoris would find success on the Korn Field circuit, with three top ten and two top fifteen finishes, missing the cut in only two of fifteen events. As the runner-up at the Mackenzie Tour – PGA Tour Canada Q-School-USA West 2, Zalatoris would earn full status for the first half of the 2019 Mackenzie Tour season. Despite his rough start, Zalatoris would finish the season sixtieth on the points list and tied for forty-fifth in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, securing full status for the 2020 season.

2020 would be a breakout year for Zalatoris as he would start the year off placing fourth at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic and finish the year with ten top-ten finishes in sixteen Korn Ferry Tournaments, including a victory at the TPC Colorado Championship at Heron Lakes where he would card a 67-67-70-69 to finish -15. As a result of his victory, Zalatoris would be qualified to compete in the U.S. Open, where he would finish tied at five over par for sixth place with then world number one ranked Dustin Johnson.

Zalatoris finished second at the 2020 Evans Scholars Invitational, which took place at Chicago Highlands Club in Westchester. With a final round 64, Zalatoris nearly captured his second championship of the season.

Not only would this event prove that Zalatoris could compete with the best in the world, but he capped it off by sinking a hole-in-one on the seventh hole of his first round and would come close to repeating the rare feat six holes later. Zalatoris’s success at the U.S. Open would be the start of an amazing stretch of appearances on the PGA Tour as he would follow with a seventh-place finish at the Farmers Insurance Open and a tenth place finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

While his sixth-place finish at Winged Foot would make for its fair share of highlights, it would be Will Zalatoris’s final score of -9 and a second-place finish at the 2021 Masters that has gotten the golf world talking about the twenty-five-year-old. Finishing just one stroke behind Hideki Matsuyama, the first Asian-born golfer to win the event, Zalatoris sat no worse than fourth after each round, finishing with a 70-68-71-70 to capture over $1.2 million in prize money.

Following an eighth-place finish at the PGA Championship, Zalatoris would struggle in his next four tournaments, including missing the cut at the U.S. Open and withdrawing from The Open Championship after suffering a back injury during the first round. While he would bounce back to finish eighth at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, he would miss out on the FedExCup playoffs due to not being a full-fledged PGA Tour member. Despite missing out on the playoffs, Zalatoris has hopes of impressing U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Steve Stricker with his 2021 ranking and performance at The Masters before the Ryder Cup takes place at the end of September.

2020-2021 Season Highlights

• Name 2021 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year
Entered 25 events with eight top-10s highlighted by a runner-up at the 2021 Masters Tournament
• Earned Special Temporary Membership after five starts; Led the non-member FedExCup standings with 1,296 points
• Recorded a total of 14 top-25s and made 21 cuts

2021-2022 Season

Zalatoris confirmed that he will be a DP World Tour member going forward. “I’m planning on playing some events over here next year and hopefully more than I have this year,” said Zalatoris. “My top priority is still going to be the PGA Tour, especially given my category this season. So much will depend on how I play in the States early next year. That will dictate how much I can think about playing what is going to be the DP World Tour. But if things go well, I can see me playing a bunch towards the end of next year. If the opportunity is there, I’ll come over as much as I can.”

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Walter Lis

Walter Lis is the managing editor of Chicago Golf Report, which launched in 2010.

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