Will Zalatoris withdraws from Masters with apparent back injury

Will Zalatoris of the United States looks on from the second green during a practice round prior to the 2023 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 03, 2023 in Augusta, Georgia.

Will Zalatoris will not compete in this year's Masters.

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For the second time in the last eight months, the injury bug has bitten Will Zalatoris. Only this time, Zalatoris is withdrawing from the Masters.

Before his 1:24 p.m. tee time with Collin Morikawa and Matt Fitzpatrick, Zalatoris told tournament officials he would be unable to compete this week due to injury.

Zalatoris withdrew during the third round of the BMW Championship back in August after injuring his back and having a PGA Tour physiotherapist work on him for several minutes before deciding he couldn’t continue. The injury turned out to be two herniated disks, which sidelined Zaltoris for the entire fall, including the Presidents Cup.

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Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner reported Zalatoris withdrew this week because of a “back injury,” but it is not known if it is the same injury.

He returned in Maui at the year-opening Sentry Tournament of Champions and finished T11 and had his best finish of the year at the Genesis Invitational with a solo fourth. However, in his next three starts leading into this week, his best finish is a T53. He withdrew from his last start at the Dell Match Play due to illness.

Earlier in the week, Zalatoris said the back injury was behind him and detailed several of the swing changes he’s made to guard against a future injury.

“The genesis of it was actually bad right ankle mobility. Because of me not pushing off my right side soon enough and being a very kind of dynamic player with some side bend, my right hip got high and tilt back,” he said Tuesday. “We’ve been trying to get me actually to stand closer to the golf ball, so that makes me create space with the ball so I can turn more horizontal as opposed to lateral. It’s been good. It’s taken its sweet time to get the full swing to come back, but I think really the last couple weeks we finally have seen some progress.”

He also talked about playing a shorter driver shaft as a result of the injury and said he had no plans to return to the longer one.

“It really helped on 8 because I could cover that bunker, but I don’t want to be sitting on my rear end for four months ever again,” he said.

Zalatoris was a popular pick to win this week, carrying +3300 odds going into the week, according to BetMGM. He finished solo second in his first Masters appearance in 2021 and tied for sixth a year ago.

Morikawa and Fitzpatrick will now play the first two rounds as a twosome.

Zalatoris is the second player to withdraw Thursday after Kevin Na pulled out after his first nine. Aaron Wise also withdrew before the tournament started last week.

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