ISLAND, S.C. (AP) – Will Zalatoris won’t raise his expectations or alter his approach after his stellar Master’ debut. Zalatoris, the slender, 24-year-old, finished second on his first trip amid the . He’ll stick to his carefully honed plan to make a mark as a pro. “I hate the cliche of ‘Just trust the process,’” Zalatoris said Wednesday. “But it’s gotten me to this point now, and there’s no reason all of a sudden to change, ‘Oh, I should go out and win this week.’”
Zalatoris faces another test at the, where fairways are narrow, and greens are small. He’ll have intense competition at Harbour Town Golf Links, led by world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, the November , and reigning PGA Championship winner Collin Morikawa, ranked fourth in the world.
Then again, Zalatoris hasn’t spent time worrying about who else will be in the field.
He finished just a stroke behind Hideki Matsuyama of Japan at the Masters. Matsuyama returned to his home country with theand didn’t plan to return to the PGA Tour until mid-May. Zalatoris, who played at Wake Forest, has steadily increased his profile since playing on the , golf’s Triple-A circuit. He’s had six top-10 finishes in his last 15 events on the ,
including a tie for sixth at the U.S.September. His Master’s performance left him at 27th in the world, and he has some predicting his first PGA trophy soon. “I haven’t put expectations on myself to play well,” Zalatoris said. “I’ve done a good job of just doing my job and playing within myself.”
Johnson had hoped to duplicate his dominating fall performance at Augusta in the spring. Instead, heand had to hang around to award the green jacket to Matsuyama on Sunday evening.
“I enjoyed being their champion for five months,” he said, smiling. “I don’t care how long it was for; it’s still cool,” he said. “I’m always going to be a Masters champion.”
Born and raised in, Johnson has played well at Harbour Town, with 10 of his last 12 rounds in the 60s. Yet, his best finish was a tie for 16th in 2018.
The Pete Dye design is filled with doglegs, water, and hazards that make grip-it-and-rip players rethink their strategies. “Even around here, you’ve just to drive it straight no matter what club you’re hitting,” Johnson said.
Morikawa, 24, won golf’s first major in San Franciscopause. He won a World Golf Championship event at the end of February and tied for 18th at Augusta National.
“The game at Augusta felt perfect; I just made too many mistakes. Out there, mistakes will happen, but I can’t be shots like I did,” he said. “We’re peaking at a good time and looking forward to the of golf.”
Morikawa‘s week had a dual purpose – on Monday, he played The Ocean Course about two hours up the road in Charleston, where he’ll defend his PGA Championship title next month.
The tournament was postponed last April due to the. The course hosted the second PGA Tour event after the stoppage. The RBC Heritage’s , Webb Simpson, finished with a course record 22-under 262 to capture that June event.
Simpson believes the return to April will also bring a return to swirling winds and tricky conditions that typically keep scores in check at this event.
Zalatoris is ready for the challenge, no matter the conditions. He soaked inat the Masters and knows whatever the future holds; he’ll cherish that significant performance. “I still wish I could put into words how much fun I’ve had,” he said.
He hopes to have even more fun this week at Harbour Town.
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