Will Zalatoris reveals “huge change” that has him near top of Genesis Invitational

Will Zalatoris had a phenomenal day at Riviera Country Club for Day 1 of the Genesis Invitational. He carded a 5-under 66 to sit tied for fifth after 18 holes.

It hasn’t been the best start to a season for him, which was to be expected. After missing eight-plus months due to a back injury, it’s taken him a while to get into the swing of things. However, each week he plays, he has finished better than the last.

Zalatoris missed the cut at the Sony Open in Hawaii, finished T34 at the American Express and in his last start, he had his best finish yet — T13 at the Farmers Insurance Open.

On Thursday, he logged seven birdies and two bogeys. He made so many clutch putts and the 27-year-old credits changing his putter for his improvement on the greens.

“I switched to the broomstick putter, which was a huge change,” Zalatoris said. “I couldn’t hit balls basically for about four and a half months, so I was able to kind of tinker around with that for a while, thinking about the comeback last year, where that was very unsuccessful.”

Zalatoris is also trying to make things less complicated.

“I think sticking to my roots of who I am as a ball-striker but simplifying everything, not getting caught up in pressure forces and all that stuff,” he said. “It’s just what feels comfortable. From there, let’s see if we can add speed to it. In the Bahamas, I was seeing where I was at… Each week has been better and better. I’ve got to keep playing.”

The FedEx St. Jude winner got off to a red hot start Thursday. He birdied his first and third holes and didn’t slow down. Zalatoris made four straight birdies to make the turn in 29 strokes.

He added one more birdie on the back with a pair of bogeys, but for the most part, it was a strong day for him.

“I got to get a couple more rounds under my belt to just let it freewheel,” Zalatoris said. “I know it’s weird to say that after shooting 29 on the front, but I think it’s still having to think about what I’m doing behind the ball, then get over it and let it happen. Hopefully put myself in contention this weekend and that will get me much more comfortable.”

Zalatoris is getting his momentum back after taking so much time off, but the putter change seems to have helped. He is an excellent ball striker, and now he appears to be polishing up his game on the greens.

Savannah Leigh Richardson is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. For more golf coverage, be sure to follow us @_PlayingThrough on all major social platforms. You can also follow her on Twitter @SportsGirlSL and Instagram @savannah_leigh_sports.

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