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Arnold Palmer Invitational: Will Zalatoris reveals post Masters plan

Get used to seeing a lot of Will Zalatoris in the coming months.

After opening the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a 3-under 69, Zalatoris revealed his plan for the spring of 2024.

“I’m actually looking at playing all the way through from The Masters to the PGA Championship,” Zalatoris said.

“Having the [The CJ Cup Byron] Nelson in that middle stretch is kind of like having a half week off since I’ll be right at home.”

Based on this assessment, Zalatoris will play in the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, the CJ Cup Byron Nelson in Dallas, and the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow in Charlotte.

Will Zalatoris, PGA Tour, Arnold Palmer Invitational

Will Zalatoris hits his second shot on the 5th hole during the first round of the 2024 Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Photo by Brennan Asplen/Getty Images

The tournaments at Harbour Town and Quail Hollow are the fifth and sixth Signature Events of the 2024 season.

For Zalatoris to commit to these events is a welcome sight for golf fans everywhere.

Last year, on the driving range at Augusta National, Zalatoris felt something pop in his back. He subsequently withdrew from The Masters and found himself in a hospital bed a few days later. Back surgery forced him to miss the next eight months, as Zalatoris returned to competitive play at the Hero World Challenge in December.

As a result, Zalatoris had to change his swing.

“The word that we’re using with everything is simplify. I used to have really high hands, very vertical. I would kind of thrust my right knee at the ball, and I would have a big side bend. Right now, I flare both my feet out and try to get as horizontal as I can, get as much rotation as possible,” Zalatoris explained.

“I’m just trying to hit three shots where it’s just a little cut to take off distance, a little draw to maybe add a little bit of distance, and then just try to hit simple straight shots from there. I used to move the ball a lot more prior to surgery, but now it’s just a lot simpler, which is great.”

Zalatoris revealed that these changes have caused him to lose distance off the tee. He also switched to a shorter driver, putting less pressure on his back.

But he is not complaining too much about these changes.

Will Zalatoris, PGA Tour, Arnold Palmer Invitational

Will Zalatoris during the first round of the 2024 Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

“I would love to go back to that 46 [inch driver], just to add another 12, 15 yards, but I never really was that great at hitting fairways, and so far, so good at hitting fairways [this week],” Zalatoris said.

“In reality, even though I’m losing distance, I’m hitting more fairways, so I’m kind of netting everything out.”

After missing the cut at the Sony Open in Hawaii, Zalatoris has grown used to these adjustments. He tied for 34th at The American Express and then tied for 13th at Torrey Pines for the Farmers Insurance Open.

But his best finish came at Riviera, where he tied for second. He was in contention again, and the next step for him would be to win.

Zalatoris winning at Bay Hill this week would be extra special.

Not only would it mark his first win since his extensive operation, but Arnold Palmer attended Wake Forest, just as Zalatoris did.

“Everything feels really good,” Zalatoris said. “Just got to keep doing what we’re doing.”

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.



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