home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


April 9, 2021

Will Zalatoris

Augusta, Georgia, USA

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: Will shot a fine first round 70 and an exceptional 4-under par 68 today to finish at 6-under after 36 holes. Currently in second place, 31 on the back nine with five birdies on that second nine. Really an exceptional performance on your first start here at the Masters.


Q. What was the most satisfying iron shot you hit today?

WILL ZALATORIS: Has to be 18 knowing that it would get me into the final group. I think that's something that it's a childhood dream to obviously be in the final group of a major on a weekend, especially here, I think definitely that one for sure.

Q. What was the club?

WILL ZALATORIS: 50-degree.

Q. In your last, I guess, I don't know how many months ago, but you've had some nice moments and some big moments, Winged Foot and what have you. Does this feel extra special? Does it feel like another start? How do you put into context what you did today and for two rounds?

WILL ZALATORIS: Yeah, I came here in 2005. I came on Friday. Watched Tiger make a 40-footer on the sixth hole, and that was the only shot I saw him hit until I turned professional. I think the fact that it's here obviously makes it a little more special. But you know, every single hole, I can think of some person who did something on every single hole, and I think that's something that -- especially in the practice rounds, obviously in the tournament you're a little more focused, but just thinking back to the history is something I really try to take in Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.

Q. Along those same lines, is there a moment crystallized in your mind when you saw the Masters on TV where you said, oh, I'd like to be there someday?

WILL ZALATORIS: It has to be actually 2005. I was sitting at our favorite Italian restaurant, I was living in the Bay Area, and I remember Tiger with the chip on 16. Normally the restaurant was pretty quiet, and when that ball dropped, it got pretty loud. It was just cool to think back on that was probably the -- probably the memory that I knew, really realizing how special the Masters is.

I've been fortunate to grow up with Lanny Wadkins' kids, and Lanny has been a great sounding board throughout my entire career. There's little things he may not even remember telling me, how the wind affects a shot if it's into the wind downwind on 12. But I think he told me that when I was 14, and I still remember it. There's still little things like that. I can't think of that in any other event.

Q. Do you recall the name of the restaurant?


Q. You've heard a lot this week that first timers don't win this event; it's only happened a few times or a couple times. Is there anything -- as you look back on your entire golf career, is there any one thing that someone told you you couldn't do and you went and did it?

WILL ZALATORIS: More personally than anybody else, the up-and-downs obviously throughout anybody's career, I struggled in college for about a year and a half and didn't even really know if I wanted to give professional golf a shot. I stuck with it and had a great summer that year and ended up almost making the World Am team. And I think that's -- the fact that everyone has their up and downs, but the fact that it's led me to here, it's something I take a lot of gratitude in for that perseverance.

Q. What would you have done if you didn't play professional golf?

WILL ZALATORIS: I have no idea. I've wanted to do this my entire life. I know even right now, I'm just kind of thinking that obviously sitting in here, there's a lot of gratitude, the fact that I'm here.

Q. You're on the same leaderboard as Jordan Spieth. How would you describe your relationship with him and what would the story be he would tell about you?

WILL ZALATORIS: Yeah, I've known Jordan, I guess since I was about ten years old playing NTPGA Junior events. He's always been a world beater at such a young age. The story I always tell was we were 14, playing my home club in Dallas at Bent Tree, and he made a crazy up-and-down on the first hole to save par basically from another fairway, and he went out and birdied six out of the next eight to shoot 29 on the front, and he broke the course record that had been there for 20-plus years, and that was at 14.

I've seen him do just some of the most miraculous things playing little games at home, but playing against him, he's always set the bar for, especially in Texas, in terms of whatever that bar is at whatever level. And so I think guys like Scottie Scheffler and myself really owe him a lot for setting that bar. He wins the U.S. Juniors, and Scott and I (indiscernible) the U.S. Juniors. So he's always pushed us.

The story he'd tell about me I think, if anything, is we'd probably make a great Ryder Cup pairing because I'm a really good ball-striker and he's probably the best chipper and putter in the last 30 years. Like I said, he's been a great friend and really a great role model.

Q. As a young guy in his first Masters, is there anything about this event that's intimidating at all to you?

WILL ZALATORIS: It can be, but like I said, I wanted to be here my entire life. Some people shy away from that, but I'm excited to be here. I've wanted to be here forever. There's no reason to feel intimidated now. I made it to here. And obviously the job is not done by any means, but I think standing on the first tee and hearing your name called, that's something that every kid dreams of.

And, you know, the first tee shot, of course I was pretty nervous, but it's still -- like I said, the fact that I wanted to be here my entire life actually almost frees me up.

Q. You mentioned your ball-striking, when everything is clicking, do you see that as your biggest strength?

WILL ZALATORIS: Yeah, for sure, especially 16, 17, 18, hitting it in the right spots and giving myself fairly easy looks. Even the putt I had on 17, it's still a foot and a half of break, but I put myself in the right spot, and I think that was really the big difference today. I think I one-putted every single hole on the back nine today, but I think it's because I put myself in the right spots.

Q. Could you elaborate on what Lanny told you about the 12th when you were 14 years old?

WILL ZALATORIS: Yeah, like I said, I don't even know if he remembers this or not, but he just said that whenever it's into the wind, when you get that kind of southwest/southeast wind, it just doesn't really affect the ball as much; and when it's downwind, that's where guys tend to struggle.

You know, today, it was in out of the left, and I think it was 153, and I'm never going to look more than middle left of that front bunker as my target. And, I mean, I hit a shot, I think I hit it -- it probably would have been 152, and it carried 150, and it was a good ten miles an hour back into us.

Like I said, I don't know if he even remembers that, but of course me being a student of the game, I've known that for ten years.

Q. When you made the turn at 1-over for your round, what were you hoping to get out of the back? What were you thinking?

WILL ZALATORIS: Yeah, I knew I was playing good golf. I had a pretty -- I had two pretty good looks on 3 and 8 that I let get away from me. I knew it was in there somewhere but when I made the par putt on 10, that was a big momentum boost, and making a couple 30-footers on 11 and 12, that's just big bonus. I hit great putts that just happened to go in.

Obviously when guys typically go low on the back, they typically tend to take advantage of the par 5s, and the fact that I've parred both of them, it gives me confidence. Like I said, I knew I was close and then to birdie five holes that weren't the par 5s on the back, you know, that really is a big confidence booster for tomorrow.

Q. And then secondly, to have no status 17 months ago to be playing in the final group of the Masters on Saturday, facial fairly unusual. What would you consider two to three turning points from then to now?

WILL ZALATORIS: I think the first turning point was when I Monday qualified for the Panama Championship. It's 90 players for two spots so you've got to go out and earn it. A month and a half prior I was sitting down with my coaches thinking about playing mini tour events because I missed out on first stage of Korn Ferry Q-School. I made it there, and the fact that I made that qualifier, I knew that I was playing well, and I progressively kept Monday qualifying and carded a couple top 25s and special temporary status.

And then when I got to the Korn Ferry Tour finals, I missed the first two cuts on the number and then had a good finish, I think I birdied five out of my last six in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. But had I made one of those weekends, I could just had an average weekend and I would have gotten my card that way.

So the fact that I was going to have to spend the next three months at home thinking that literally one shot could have been the difference of me getting my card or not, it really motivated me.

And then I had a couple months, we had a couple tournaments and then COVID hit so. I had four months of basically -- fortunately I was able to still play. We couldn't practice but just go play. Carry my bag and go play, go play against guy day-in and day-out. Tony Romo has been a great friend and a great sounding board. He's basically been a big brother to me.

I think that first month was the biggest turning point where I was playing some exceptional golf at home and I knew when I was going to come out, I was fresh. That's where I came out firing, I was in the final group, I think three out of the next four tournaments and I ended up winning one of them. I think that was kind of the second turning point if you will where things really kicked into gear.

Like I said, I'm lucky to be here because without -- I wouldn't have tried to qualify for The Open because I was so focused on the Korn Ferry Tour where week-in, week-out, you miss one week and it could be the difference of you not getting your card and getting your card, and we end up -- the U.S. Open gets pushed back.

I end up getting a spot from Top-10 in Korn Ferry and finish six there and have another top ten and fix that into special temporary status. That's why I kind of have that attitude of gratitude, I know as cheesy as that sounds, but without COVID, I may not be here. I mean, maybe I would have earned it. But still, it's a very wild year and a half to look back on to think I could have had my card two years ago, well, now I have two years of Korn Ferry and now I end up getting my card in a different way.

Q. What did you pick up from Bernhard if anything?

WILL ZALATORIS: Just to see him miss in spots. Obviously I have got a massive advantage in length against regulars players, let alone him, and to see him miss in the correct spots. Even some holes I'm hitting pitching wedge into 17. I think he's hitting hybrid in and he's missing it short right because he knows that's the correct spot to miss. I think that's something -- he's a tactician.

It was incredible to watch over the last two days, and we shared a lot of laughs. And obviously a guy who obviously being a champion here, and even at his age still winning on the Champions Tour and week-in, week-out contending, it's amazing to watch.

THE MODERATOR: Will, congratulations and wishing you all the best this weekend.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

tech 129
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297