May 20, 2021
Kiawah Island, South Carolina, USA
The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island
THE MODERATOR: Good evening from the 2021 PGA Championship here at Kiawah Island, South Carolina. We are joined by Will Zalatoris. Will opened up with a 1-under par 71.
Looking at your scorecard here, I see a magical little double-circle on the 6th hole. Maybe talk a little about what that entailed.
WILL ZALATORIS: Yeah, it was a nice bonus. I had 122, about a 15-mile-an-hour wind right behind me, and I tried to smash a 60, and thankfully it flew straight into the hill and had a ton of spin. Balls are not really backing up this week and got lucky and the ball fell. I was just trying to get something in there around that ball around ten feet, and luckily it dropped.
THE MODERATOR: Beyond that terrific moment, you get to the back nine, you're in good position, and you just played good golf the rest of the way. Talk about how you played today overall.
WILL ZALATORIS: Yeah, actually everything was solid. I had a tough stretch out of the gates. Really the last couple weeks been working really hard on kind of the basics that we've worked on over the last couple years, and Josh Gregory and I, my short game coach, spent a lot of time together over the last couple weeks to figure out some stuff. I got out of posture really in my putting.
I've always said the best two aspects of my game are iron play and lag putting, and my lag putting last week and the week before, to putt it mildly, was atrocious. It was nice to hit some nice lags today. Especially out here, you're going to have a lot of 30-footers just trying to make par and thankfully it felt like on that last five holes I was kind of in cruise control.
Obviously would have been nice to make a couple more birdies coming in. I had my chances but I did everything I needed to do to play well. So it's there. I feel ready. Game feels like it's peaking right now, and just got to run the tables.
THE MODERATOR: You're in position, above all. You're in position after one round, right?
WILL ZALATORIS: It's a major championship. This is what you work for and obviously I've had a nice little run of majors over the last couple -- I guess really the last seven, eight months. But the tougher the golf course, the more it favors me.
I'm obviously excited for the test this weekend and to play with a couple different winds.
Q. What was it like today? Was it immediately a sense of calm? You're like an old hand at this having finished second at the Masters. Do you have any nerves at all playing with Jordan? Everything is going well for you.
WILL ZALATORIS: Yeah, I've known Jordan since I was nine. I've actually never played golf with Webb before, but we spent a lot of time together at Wake. It's a dream pairing. Three great guys -- or two good guys, I'm not putting myself in there, and two other really great caddies. It's a lot of fun.
Just like every tournament, I love playing a lot leading up to majors. Weirdly, I took a week off before the Masters and it paid off. I think it was just because I spent a little more time to get to know the golf course. But getting in a rhythm like this where I'm playing four, five weeks in a row, it kind of -- day-in, day-out, when something is on the line it kind of makes things easier.
Q. What did you hit into 17?
WILL ZALATORIS: I hit a 4-iron, which it was not the right club. That ball needed to be 30 feet short, but I'll take it.
Q. Where were you aiming?
WILL ZALATORIS: I was trying to hit a pretty good draw right at it, knowing that as long as I draw it, it's going to be over that water and it should be fine.
I was trying to land that out about 20, 30 feet short, and if it released back there, great. But I just took the water out of play. I really struck it well those last five holes going back into the wind. So it was kind of nice to get actually a look on that hole.
Q. I saw you take your eagle ball out of play and put it in a pocket of your golf bag.
WILL ZALATORIS: Yeah, that ball, because I hit that 60-degree, it just scuffed it up like crazy. It's in the bag, but depending on how this week goes, it might need to go in the jar with the hole-in-one ball from the U.S. Open.
Q. You took it out because it was scuffed?
WILL ZALATORIS: Yeah.
Q. But also you might want to save it?
WILL ZALATORIS: Yeah, we'll see how the week goes.
Q. And what was the yardage on that?
WILL ZALATORIS: 122.
Q. And did you notice, I think I saw Jordan repair your ball mark. You don't see that all the time.
WILL ZALATORIS: Yeah, I was on my way over to go get it and he got it for me. That was nice of him. I told him after I made it, "Thanks for teaching me that shot," because I've seen him hole so many freaking wedge shots throughout my life.
Q. Did you use the binoculars on that shot?
WILL ZALATORIS: Yeah, I did. My caddie used it all day. I only touched it once on 18.
It's different. It's a very different week using the range finder, and then on top of that with the waste area, sandy, bunker, whatever it's called, situation this week. So I'm just trying to keep everything as normal as possible, but it is nice taking a practice swing out of the sand.
Q. And then when the ball was sitting on the lady's chair, maybe 5 or 6, it looked like Jordan as the elder statesman knew it was very simple, just mark and move, but was that -- did that help you understand how to handle it?
WILL ZALATORIS: I knew what to do. I didn't want to make the mistake of where the ball didn't -- or where maybe it moved a half a dimple. I was glad that he was there. I knew how to go about the situation, but the fact that he was there and he came over, I didn't want to ask him to come over and say, hey, watch this if it moves. That's why I was going to grab a rules official. It's pretty straightforward. If the ball moves, you mark it. If the ball moves, you replace it.
Q. To me, here's two young players -- he's a young player but he's the veteran among you two.
WILL ZALATORIS: Yeah, I remind him every day that he's old. He's been kicking my butt for 12 years, so I've got to at least give him some sort of a hard time considering he's beat me for it feels like my entire life.
Q. I saw Webb and Jordan sharing a spray of -- what would you call that, sunscreen?
WILL ZALATORIS: Yeah.
Q. I've never seen players do that before. I was wondering if you had.
WILL ZALATORIS: It was communal caddying today. Like I said, all three caddies including Ryan, my caddie, they are all close. We have all spent a lot of time together and all great guys. I'm sure the camera saw us on 2 just goofing off. It's a major championship and obviously we're playing for history, but we're still good buddies and we're all having a good time.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports