Will Zalatoris reveals 1 big reason why he plays well at Augusta National

will zalatoris hits putts during a practice round of the 2024 masters

Will Zalatoris has seen a ton of success in his young Masters career — and there's one big reason why.

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AUGUSTA, Ga. — Will Zalatoris got off to an early start in his prep for the 2024 Masters. He drove down Magnolia Lane just after the sun peeked over the horizon, and then headed into the clubhouse to check in. When he stepped out onto the 10th tee box, Tiger Woods was waiting for him.

The two played just nine holes together, but it was plenty informative with Woods sharing a few secrets on the course with his young playing partner as they traversed Augusta National’s back nine. Zalatoris declined to share what those secrets were, but they will surely be of help should he find himself in contention this week.

“A lot of things in the sense of kind of confirming strategy around this place,” Zalatoris said. “At the same time, I let him do what he does and I just kind of followed him around.”

There isn’t another player in this year’s Masters field (and perhaps in this tournament’s history) that you’d rather learn from than Woods. His locker houses five green jackets — the second-most of all-time — and he hasn’t missed a cut around this place since 1996.

“You could just sit there and analyze the same stats for his entire career and put him in five different buckets and every one of them is never going to be broken,” Zalatoris said. “It’s pretty amazing to see how good he’s swinging it.”

Although Zalatoris doesn’t have a green jacket yet, he’s had a fair amount of success around Augusta National himself. In his debut in 2021, he finished second to Hideki Matsuyama by a shot. In his follow-up performance the next year, he finished T6.

When he arrived at Augusta last April looking to build on that success, he suffered a “golfer’s worst nightmare.” As he prepared for his opening-round tee time, his back gave out on the driving range. Two days later, he underwent surgery that kept him out of competition for the remainder of the year. This week, he returns to the site of where it all unraveled 12 months ago.

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If Zalatoris hopes to build on the successes from his first two appearances, his putter will have to be working. It’s not easy to solve the putting riddles that Dr. Alister MacKenzie’s green pose, but Zalatoris has never had much trouble with them in the past. In fact, he credits his ability to navigate those nuances as one of the biggest reasons for his Masters success.

“I’m more of an artist reader,” Zalatoris said. “That is why I’ve putted well when I’ve played here.”

MacKenzie designed these greens to play tricks on golfers’ eyes. A putt can look like it’s going to do one thing, but in reality do something totally opposite. It’s why you see so many pros befuddled by the Masters’ greens each year. They’re unlike anything else they play on the Tour schedule.

It seems to play right into Zalatoris’ strengths, though. He uses his feet to feel the slopes. He doesn’t obsess over the visuals. He doesn’t get too rigid. He makes putts.

“Coming to a place like this where you have to be very artistic, I feel very good about it,” Zalatoris said. “I am rolling it the best I ever have.”

Combine the putter confidence with his elite ball striking and you’ve got a dangerous combination. Add in his past success at this course and you’ve got a recipe for a green jacket.

If he hopes to win, though, he’ll also need a little luck.

“When it’s your week,” he said, “It’s your week.”

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