AUGUST | In his second full season on the PGA Tour, Will Zalatoris is still going strong. Always looking for his first victory among the cream of the world elite, he very often stays in the big main draws. There is no exception in Augusta.
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In his first appearance at the Masters last year, he came close to emulating Fuzzy Zoeller, who won the green jacket in his rookie year on the leafy streets of Georgia.
However, Hideki Matsuyama had beaten him by one shot. He walked away with the silver medal, crystal goblets for an eagle at 15Yand above all, a lot of experiences.
The 25-year-old American became the fourth golfer to record four rounds under par in his first invitation to Augusta National. He followed in the footsteps of Zoeller (1979), Jonas Blixt (2014), and Sungjae Im (2020).
Where the planet golf continued to see him open like an azalea flower in the sun, Zalatoris picked up where he left off.
After 18 and 36 holes, he was already in the top 10. It’s no small feat to get there when the elements are unleashed on such a special field.
The size of a McDonald’s potato chip, the 6-foot-2, 165-pound golfer hits the ball with power two miles ahead while maintaining his accuracy. And his short game is just as successful. He is among the leaders in all columns.
Frankly impressive for a player who has just come out of the PGA’s antechamber, the Korn Ferry Tour.
On this second visit to Augusta, Zalatoris maintains the same recipe. Especially since he knows very well the tendencies of the Augusta National competition committee. There are no surprises.
“I have been waiting for this moment for 52 weeks. They all started at the same point. I have to find a way to stay ahead of the pack. It’s not free. »
Despite his 25 years and his prowess for two years, the young athlete takes nothing for granted. Above all, he doesn’t want to fall into the same trap as hundreds of golfers before him. He keeps both feet on the ground.
In his five appearances at a Grand Slam championship, he has three top-10 finishes. His second-place finish last year represents his best performance, even though he finished in the same position at the Farmers Open last February.
We will have to be on the lookout until the last moment, because on 29Y The world golfer certainly knows how to keep up with the leader. at 22Y Ranked in the FedEx Cup standings, he has three top-10 finishes in his 11 starts this season.
A first with the “big cat”
Zalatoris was just eight months old when Tiger Woods won the first of five green jackets at Augusta in 1997.
Despite everything, the Californian knows everything about the feat.
This week he experienced his baptism of fire by participating for the first time in his career in the same tournament as the ‘big cat’. He can’t believe his eyes.
“It’s amazing when I see all these people gathered in different places on the field. I was on the sixth hole in the first round when he made a birdie and a little fist pump at 16Y, I was used to that seeing it on TV. Actually, it’s downright nice to live.
“People think Tiger moves the needle on golf scores. In fact, I think he is the needle. »
Therefore, Zalatoris continues to gain experience by absorbing as much information as possible in order to continue his outbreak.
I almost had a heart attack on Friday noon when I saw my name on the list of 28 print journalists who won the media lottery. The gift ? A round of golf at Augusta National on Monday, the day after the final round. Identical route, except for the tees placed on the members. It is the absolute dream of the golfer, I who learned the rudiments of the sport with my father, Pierre, in 1997, after this great victory by Tiger Woods. On my sixth Masters cover, that other fabulous moment from 2022 will forever be etched in my memory. Coming out of the Quebec winter, I’m hoping the few baskets hit in Georgia since my arrival last week will help me play well. Regardless, it’s secondary on this picturesque course. Sleep is likely to be light the next night.
The Masters seems to have found his pet. It’s crazy to unearth the “Gnome Masters”. The figure, available in different versions, goes like hot cakes in the store. It has only been available for a few years, but has been growing in popularity for two years. Dressed in his white caddy dog, the gnome bears an uncanny resemblance to Shane Lowry’s caddy, Brian Martin. This time, I didn’t put it on the shelf like I did with Bing Dwen Dwen during the Beijing Games this winter. The ugly lunar panda, mascot of the Games, had sold out very quickly in February.
Quebec pro Yohan Benson shot a hilarious video with French pro, Thomas Levet, today at the Masters television studios. This is available on social networks. In a tasty contest, Benson translates French golf terms from Levet to Quebec. In fact, the former European pro uses more anglicisms in his vocabulary than Benson would naturally use. Obviously, with his good nature and his giggling, Benson won the competition hands down!