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April 8, 2021

Will Zalatoris

Augusta, Georgia, USA

Quick Quotes

Q. What were the nerves like on the tee here compared to everywhere else?

WILL ZALATORIS: Yeah, this one is different. You know, when you hear the "fore please, now driving," you dream about that for your entire life. I think if anything in a weird way it kind of takes a little bit of pressure off because it's like, hey, I've wanted to do this my entire life, now I'm doing it.

It's fun. I've been saying that I've been playing with house money because basically every week is either win or just keep having the status that I have, whatever that kind of is, so it's just been so fun.

Obviously to be here, I've talked about it a lot, just having the same mindset, and I've had a lot of gratitude after a year and a half after basically a lot of unknowns with COVID, and to be out here is actually pretty cool.

Q. It's been a long time since a first-timer has won. Why do you think that is, and do you believe it can happen?

WILL ZALATORIS: Yeah, well, this place is special. There's certain spots that you just -- to some holes you can't miss it and then there's some holes where that spot is perfect. There were a couple times that I learned today, like 16 was an example of maybe instead of aiming somewhere towards the middle of the green you actually aimed long and more at that flag because that bunker is way easier up-and-down than the putt that I had, but it's stuff like that that over the years, it's obviously keeping the yardage book and year in, year out keep remembering that, and obviously it was fun playing with Bernhard Langer, and he said he thinks this was his 38th Masters. I've gotten in five rounds here.

To obviously see -- I'm hitting it 40 to 50 by him, but to see him still shoot 74 today with this wind and how firm and fast the greens were, it was a lot of fun to watch that.

Q. Who did you lean on for course experience before you came in?

WILL ZALATORIS: A little bit of -- I grew up with Lanny Watkins' kids, and I actually didn't pick his brain for this week specifically, but him talking about little things like the wind on 12, I just remember -- he told me that when I was 14 and I still remember it.

Q. Lanny did?

WILL ZALATORIS: Yeah, Lanny did. It's stuff like that that I don't watch a ton of golf, but this one you sit down and you watch as much golf as you possibly can, so there's certain things that you remember. I've always watched guys to the back left pin on 10, every single person misses that putt left. I've been watching this tournament for as long as I can remember.

Q. Do you have a good feel for the history of this place and beyond the fact that a ton of guys from Texas have won this, Wake Forest with Palmer and a guy like Billy Joe Patton?

WILL ZALATORIS: Yeah, I think like I said, the history you would think would probably throw some more pressure on me, but if anything it's just appreciating the fact that I'm here and I get to hopefully be a part of that history. You know, I've had the same attitude and same mindset for a year and a half of just get better every week, and there's stuff that I'm working on right now in my game that I've been working on three to four weeks, but it's the Masters. It doesn't change. It doesn't matter if I'm doing a Monday qualifier or getting ready for here, I'm trying to get better.

Q. What is the run-up when you're checking the World Rankings and qualifications to get here? How stressful was that for you? I know I spoke to you at THE PLAYERS. What was that like as you're trying to chase that?

WILL ZALATORIS: Well, I mean, 17 months ago I was 2,000 plus in the world, so if I'm -- but at the same time my goal isn't to make a WGC event or a Masters or THE PLAYERS. It's obviously to win those some day. So it's not the be-all-end-all, but I missed Korn Ferry Q-school two years ago and basically was sitting down with my coaches not even two years ago talking about playing mini-Tour stuff. That's something that, like I said, having that mindset of having a lot of gratitude for being here, it takes a little bit of the pressure off, but it's the same thing. Every week just getting ready for what's next, what's next.

Of course you want to play in the Masters. Trust me, it's not like I didn't have that cutoff circled by any means, but you know, I think if anything, it's just part of the journey, and good golf takes care of a lot of things.

Q. You talk about the gratitude. From the couple times I spoke to you, you seem like a pretty confident person and you've kind of shown that you do belong already on the TOUR. Is there a part of you that's always felt that you belonged here at Augusta and that you can do some things here down the road?

WILL ZALATORIS: Yeah, kind of the joke that I've been saying with my family is if I'm stupid enough to think I can play here, then I'm stupid enough to think I can win it. Yeah, I think just, like I said, just kind of focusing on the process, and I know that's a very boring media statement that I'm sure you guys hear a lot, but it's what's gotten me here.

Just keep doing what I'm doing.

Q. Do you ever hit draw with driver off the tee?

WILL ZALATORIS: Very rarely. I mean, basically never.

Q. Is working it both ways here off the tee overrated?

WILL ZALATORIS: So I can turn my 3-wood but I cut most of my drivers. Any of the holes that you've got to turn right to left, I typically hit 3-wood.

Q. Was that Troy and Josh you sat down with?

WILL ZALATORIS: Yeah, Troy and Josh and my agent Alan Hobbs and we were sitting down talking about playing some Adams events or whatever just to get some competitive reps before the Monday qualifiers started, and obviously like I said, if it ain't broke, don't fix it, so just keep doing what we're doing.

Q. What course was it that you played out of growing up?

WILL ZALATORIS: We grew up out at Bent Tree in Dallas. Bent Tree in Dallas is where I grew up playing out of.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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