Will Zalatoris (67) passes first test at AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

Getty Images

Will Zalatoris (67) passes first test at AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

PGA Tour

Will Zalatoris (67) passes first test at AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Will Zalatoris won’t get much time to reflect on his best score as a pro golfer. No, after shooting 5-under 67 Thursday at Spyglass Hill, Zalatoris was off to finish an organizational psychology paper that was due later that night.

“A lot of it is peak performance stuff,” Zalatoris said. “Last week I was doing a paper on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. This week I’ve got goal-setting theory.

“… It’s utopian-world-type stuff, but it’s fun.”

Zalatoris’ world may not be perfect, but so far at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am it certainly has seemed it. Not only did Zalatoris receive a sponsor exemption to compete on the iconic Monterey Peninsula, but he also was partnered up with one of his childhood heroes, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who Zalatoris often plays golf with back home at Bent Tree Golf Club in Dallas.

Not bad for someone just a month into his pro career. (Zalatoris turned pro following three-and-half seasons at Wake Forest, where he won four times and was a first-team All-America selection last season.)

“It was a very hard decision (to turn pro),” Zalatoris said, “but when you’re out here on days like this, and you’re in Monterey, and, you know, I’m playing with my hero as a kid, in a moment like this it’s pretty hard to think twice.”

Zalatoris, who is just two shots off the lead held by Beau Hossler and Kevin Streelman, made six birdies and just one bogey on Thursday. He hasn’t made a cut yet in five pro starts (four came as an amateur), but Zalatoris is starting to find his comfort zone after missing the cut by a shot two weeks ago at the Farmers Insurance Open, his pro debut.

Five years ago Zalatoris was a highly ranked junior golfer who received short-game instruction from Cameron McCormick. That same year another McCormick student, Jordan Spieth, earned his PGA Tour card via sponsor exemptions and won the John Deere Classic. Zalatoris was inspired and the next year won the U.S. Junior Amateur, the same tournament that Spieth won twice as a junior.

Now, Zalatoris hopes to mirror Spieth’s path to the Tour. Like Spieth did in 2012, Zalatoris didn’t advance out of second stage of Web.com Tour Q-School, so Zalatoris will initially have to rely on sponsor exemptions and Monday qualifiers this year.

He plans to Monday qualify next week at Riviera before heading home for two weeks. He figures to get an exemption or two when the Tour heads to Texas in a couple of months. He’ll also look for some invites into Web.com Tour events.

Zalatoris would rather finish in the top 10 this week and stay out on Tour for another tournament.

“Being out here two of the last three weeks, you get a taste of this and you never want to go back,” Zalatoris said. “There’s nothing wrong with the Web at all, but this is what I’ve wanted to do my entire life.”

As for school, Zalatoris has about 18 credit hours left to earn his Bachelor’s degree in psychology.

“Should be done by August,” Zalatoris said.

Ideally, Zalatoris would have a card by then, too.

Latest

More Golfweek
Home