Will Zalatoris’ first season on the PGA Tour was a learning experience. Although it was clear the 25-year-old had the game to compete at the highest level, he lacked the durability needed to stay healthy through the grind of a full season.
“Last year I got burned out,” he said at this week’s Farmers Insurance Open. “My body couldn’t handle playing 25-plus weeks.”
After suffering a back injury at the Open Championship last July, Zalatoris played just seven more tournaments over the rest of the calendar year. As a response to his dwindling durability, he decided to add weight to his then-160-pound frame over the offseason.
“I think that I’ve been needing to do it for a long time,” he said. “There’s never been like a goal number — it’s just been let’s get stronger and get some more endurance.”
Zalatoris returned in 2022 15 pounds heavier and in a much better position to stay healthy through the entire season.
But what was his secret to adding that bulk to his wiry frame? A combination of “changing what [he’s] eating” and “reversed intermittent fasting.”
Each morning, he ate a full breakfast at 6 a.m. and then waited until late in the evening to have a robust dinner. Zalatoris called the process the “easiest 15 pounds [he’s] ever put on.”
“I wish I could say it was kind of hard, but it was having that structure of sticking to it every day made it easy,” he said. “I know [in the] dog days in the summer it’s going to really pay off.”
Those added pounds haven’t only improved his prospects at staying healthy, they’ve also given him more oomph off the tee. Couple with his new 46-inch driver, Zalatoris now has 12 extra yards of carry off the tee — a crucial advantage on the modern-day Tour.
“A place around here, that’s huge,” he said. “Places like Colonial even, you know. Now I’m having 120 in the rough as opposed to 170 in the rough because I’ll be busting driver over the bunkers as opposed to laying up with something short of it.”
That newfound advantage is apparent when looking at Zalatoris’ season stats as well. The second-year pro is up from 23rd to 19th in distance off the tee, and up from 31st to 23rd in SG: Off the Tee. And he’s done it all without changing any of the mechanics in his swing.
“Obviously we’ve seen what Bryson has done, you won’t be seeing me at 220 anytime soon, but definitely the added distance has really paid dividends,” he said.