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February 17, 2015

Will Zalatoris


THE MODERATOR:テつ We welcome Will Zalatoris to the media center.テつ Will is the winner of yesterday's Collegiate Showcase, is a freshman at Wake Forest, the defending U.S. Junior champion.
Talk about your 67, 4‑under par.テつ You were the only player to break par yesterday.テつ What was it like playing in that event, the first of its kind on the PGA TOUR, and if I'm not mistaken this is your first PGA TOUR experience.テつ Just your thoughts and we'll open it up for questions.
WILL ZALATORIS:テつ First I have to thank the Northern Trust for giving up a sponsor's invite for a college kid to come out and play.テつ It's a big opportunity for me and I'm excited.
To have a college kid like me come out and play, I know a lot of guys are fighting for their card but it means a lot for us, because we know we get to come out and play with guys, and I've already played with six or seven different pros this week.テつ It's fun to be around guys like that.
Yesterday was a really good round.テつ Front nine, I think I hit almost every green.テつ Just didn't really make anything.テつ Stayed patient and kept giving myself opportunities and finally made some on the back.テつ Excited for this week.テつ It's my first PGA TOUR event and this is kind of what I've been working towards.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Had you ever had any experience on this golf course before?
WILL ZALATORIS:テつ No, I haven't.テつ I've actually never played here before.テつ I literally saw it blind yesterday.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Talk a little bit about playing with Bill Haas.テつ I know you guys played a practice round again today.テつ Just the experience you've had hanging out with him the last couple of days.
WILL ZALATORIS:テつ Yeah, you know, Bill is an awesome dude.テつ He actually comes to a lot of basketball games.テつ I loved picking his brain today, just a minute asking him about TOUR life and his time at Wake.
Coach Haas caddied for me today, so having his uncle there, it's a lot of fun, kind of a family atmosphere.テつ He gave me a lot of good tips and it's a lot of fun being with Bill.テつ I've got to give him a lot of credit.テつ It's a lot of fun to ride on his coattails yesterday.テつ Didn't miss a fairway or many putts, either.テつ I'm looking for him to do something good this week.

Q.テつ How nervous do you think you'll be?
WILL ZALATORIS:テつ I won't, I don't think I'll be nervous at all.テつ Even though I'm 18, I'm a college kid.テつ I know obviously they think that it's my first PGA TOUR event; I'm just out playing golf and I'm playing my game.テつ I know if I play my game, some people‑‑ there will be very few people I think will beat me.テつ It's exciting for me.
I know a lot of guys always talk about that first tee shot.テつ But if anything, this is what I've been working towards.テつ In my mind, I've already hit that first tee shot in my mind a thousand times.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Had you had any experience playing against any of the other guys that were playing in the event yesterday?
WILL ZALATORIS:テつ Actually we played‑‑ our teams, it was actually really spread out.テつ So our team has not played against a lot of the other schools.テつ But I've actually played with a lot of the kids.テつ I think there were seven or eight guys yesterday that were on the Walker Cup practice squad.テつ So we're already talking about the fun memories we had.
THE MODERATOR:テつ This is obviously a big accomplishment for you already this year.テつ What are your goals for the rest of the year for Wake Forest golf, amateur golf?
WILL ZALATORIS:テつ Yeah, I think as a team, obviously every team wants to go towards the National Championship, and I think right now, we are six in the Golf Week rankings and I think 12th or 13th in of Golf Stats.テつ We are in the running; we are a pretty young team and only going to get younger.テつ So as a team at Wake, that's obviously our dream and our goal.テつ That's what we work towards.
As an amateur, I think obviously‑‑ I think this year, unless I make the U.S. Open, I'm going to go overseas and play the British Am and have the U.S. Am.テつ So if anything, I'd like to have a few exemptions into the Majors next year, if you know what I mean.

Q.テつ You were talking about playing with Bill.テつ What kind of tips did he give you specifically?
WILL ZALATORIS:テつ Yeah, he really just talked about, you know, getting ready for the week.テつ It's a long week and obviously everybody wants to do as much as they can to get ready for a tournament, and obviously for me, these guys play week‑in, week‑out.
And it may seem a little redundant to them but for me, obviously want to play my best, exactly what I just said:テつ Be yourself and play your game.テつ If you shoot 67 on a golf course like that, I think if you can do four of those, we might be seeing a lot more of you.

Q.テつ What kind of classes are you missing this week?
WILL ZALATORIS:テつ Well, all of them (smiling).テつ Thankfully we have some snow on the ground and today's classes were cancelled and I don't have classes on Monday.テつ So so far, I haven't missed any.テつ I'm taking 14 hours this semester, so if anything, my teachers have been really awesome about it.
I e‑mailed them last night and they knew about it from the athletic department.テつ Got a couple of labs due on Thursday, so I'll be playing golf in the morning and doing some homework in the afternoon.
THE MODERATOR:テつ What's your major at Wake?
WILL ZALATORIS:テつ I'm probably going to be an econ major.テつ Still figuring it out because I'm a major.テつ Probably going to be an econ major and do a few minors, too.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Is there a moment when you step back and say:テつ This is a big deal; I'm 18 years old at a PGA TOUR event.
WILL ZALATORIS:テつ Yes and no.テつ I mean, the part that I'm keeping relative, is a year ago I was ranked 3,300 in the amateur rankings, and now I'm in the Top‑10 and now I'm playing and got my PGA TOUR debut as an amateur.テつ It's exciting.
For me, if anything, I'm more here to learn, because I don't have any aspirations to turn pro, not yet.テつ So for me, just learn, see how my game goes up against other TOUR pros.
And just even today, I was actually telling my caddie, Scott, I saw some shots today that I don't think I've ever really ever seen around the greens.テつ So it's kind of exciting, already learning.

Q.テつ That's a pretty big improvement in a year.テつ What do you attribute that to?
WILL ZALATORIS:テつ A lot of things.テつ One of them being having Scott Fawcett on the bag throughout the summer.テつ He's really big on strategy and he's actually been starting up a company, and he just is literally has changed the way I play golf.
I started working with Cameron McCormick in my short game, I think it was January of last year.テつ He's just been an awesome mentor, both of them have.
And my long‑time full swing pro, David Price, is the head pro at my club in Dallas at Bent Tree Country Club, if anything, I needed a huge boost in my short game and my full swing just needed to stay the same.
Having a little bit more‑‑ being a little bit more mature as I play, and having Scott on the bag‑‑ first time he caddied for me, I told him, I said, I picked up 25 years of experience in four rounds.
Just really becoming more mature.テつ This week, I could be making a big deal out of that first tee shot, but the first tee shot is going to mean the same thing as the 72nd hole.テつ So if anything, just be excited for it.
THE MODERATOR:テつ What kind of advice did Jerry, your coach, give you before this week?テつ Obviously he's had interaction with the Haases and other PGA TOUR players that have gone through Wake throughout the years.
WILL ZALATORIS:テつ His biggest advice was just be Willy‑Z, that's what he calls me.テつ Just be yourself, have some fun.テつ He loves talking about my full swing and how good it is, and so every time he says it, he's got that big smile on his face.テつ If anything, it gives me a little confidence.
Quick story on Coach Haas was I had a pretty bad down spell my sophomore and junior year of high school and a lot of coaches quit recruiting me.テつ Coach Haas offered me the Arnold Palmer Scholarship in kind of my down time, probably my worst part, too.テつ When you get be some like that that believes in you, that's kind of‑‑ you start to believe in yourself.テつ He's done a lot for me and he doesn't even know it, even as a freshman.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Any expectations on the week?
WILL ZALATORIS:テつ Just play my game.テつ I'm not here to beat anybody.テつ Just play my game and just see what happens.

Q.テつ Your caddie, you were talking about the things he helped you with.テつ Is it statistical?テつ Is it course management?テつ Can you quantify?
WILL ZALATORIS:テつ Yeah, it's actually statistical numbers off of actually course management. テつSo figuring out if I should be trying to challenge a bunker or challenging a green or doing stuff like that.テつ So taking a lot of the numbers from Mark Broadie in strokes gained and applying them actually as a guide to how I play.テつ So it's kind of a new way of looking at things, and it's really helped me.
The bottom line is I'm just trying to give myself as many opportunities as I can.テつ So like yesterday was a perfect example.テつ I had I think it was seven or eight looks from, I think it was like 17 feet, I want to say is what it was.テつ I went back and looked at my numbers.
I think the first 12 holes I didn't make any of them but the thing is I kept giving myself opportunities and eventually I want to take a round where 71 or 72 is my worst instead of 77 because I short‑sided myself in bunkers or something.
Yesterday is a perfect example perfect I shot 67 and I felt like I left a lot out there.

Q.テつ How did y'all hook up together?
WILL ZALATORIS:テつ Scott actually worked with my dad a little bit, and he had been on the Nationwide Tour for a number of years.テつ So he just took me under his wing, actually, when I was like 12 or 13.テつ Then finally he really has become a big mentor to me the past two or three years.テつ You know, getting through my little slump and now excelling to another level.テつ If anything, as an 18‑year‑old kid, you get a lot of up‑and‑downs, and he's always been a flatline for me.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Good luck this week.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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