KAPALUA, Hawaii – It’s been more than four months since Will Zalatoris competed because of a back injury. That gave him plenty of time to reflect on a year’s worth of close calls and figure out how his body works.
“It’s probably more than I thought I wanted,” Zalatoris said at the year’s opening Tournament of Champions.
Zalatoris narrowly missed a birdie on the final hole at Brookline in a playoff loss to Justin Thomas at the PGA Championship, forcing a playoff against US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick. He then won his first FedEx Cup playoff event, winning a three-hole match without making a birdie. He only played two rounds of the BMW Championship when his back was lost.
Zalatoris said he spent time with Greg Rose at the Titleist Performance Institute to analyze how to proceed in his career.
“Basically we went through a whole evaluation to see where I’m at, and I think it’s longevity as opposed to anything else,” Zalatoris said.
Zalatoris led the PGA Tour’s approach to the greens last year, so the idea of a change gave him pause.
But I think the biggest thing for me was spending a lot of time understanding the pressure of the golf swing and understanding how to push my right side. “And I do it after a lot of guys, so what it does for a guy with a lot of lateral bending is that my right hip is elevated and my spine tilts back.
“And Dr. Rose said, duh, ‘no wonder I had back problems.”
He said he was lucky the fix was related to the engine design and not a structural fault. It took him 12 weeks to recover and he resumed hitting balls in early December. The only major change was how he set up the ball rather than anything else in his swing.
Zalatoris said his swing is more efficient now, and he hasn’t lost any speed. Now the issue is lack of rust.
It will be his first hit in the competition in 138 days when he leaves Thursday.