Will Zalatoris tears up at Genesis Invitational after losing family member

Will Zalatoris played his fourth PGA Tour event since coming back from injury, and it was his best finish of the season. The Dallas, TX., resident played beautifully but was bested by Hideki Matsuyama’s record-breaking performance.

He tied for second place at the Genesis Invitational, posting a final round 2-under 69 to finish at 14-under, three shots behind Matsuyama.

After his round, he was in tears as he reflected on this week, admitting he lost a family member.

“I didn’t say anything all week, but I — sorry. I lost a family member on Thursday, and she was with me all week,” he said in tears. “It was pretty special on Friday to make the hole-in-one after I found out on Thursday… It was very unexpected — this whole week was for her. My family couldn’t be here no matter what would have happened — very proud of how I played.”

Zalatoris started the day well with a birdie at the first. However, he fell back to even par on the day the par-4 5th. The former Wake Forest Demon Deacon added another birdie on the front nine to make the turn in 34 shots.

Two more birdies at 11 and 13 got him within a couple of shots, and at one point, he led the field. However, a bogey at the par-4 15th all but ended his chances at winning.

The 27-year-old Zalatoris was one of the sponsor exemptions, and he took full advantage of it. He called it preparation for the upcoming majors.

“It’s nice to be able to work on these changes when I’m in contention — fully commit to what I’m doing. Like I said, I hit great putts all day, I just under-read a bunch of putts,” he said. “Was above the hole a bunch, had a couple that were slow going back up the hill, so I just kept missing everything a little bit low.”

Zalatoris made three straight pars coming home, as the putter wouldn’t cooperate with him when he needed it most.

“I don’t think the greens slowed down at all. I think the first few days playing early — almost scared me a little bit having some just crazy firm bounces,” Zalatoris said. “But, I’m headed in the right direction and week by week I’ve been getting better, I’m getting more and more comfortable.”

He finished T13 at the Farmers Insurance Open and with a T2 finish Sunday, it appears his game is coming back to form.

“Every week, I’ve been getting better, so I knew I just got to keep doing what I’m doing,” Zalatoris said. “I’ve got a lot of silver in my house, so getting another second place doesn’t sit that well, but coming back from what I had to go through physically — we’re in the right direction.”

Returning from surgery and taking over eight months off from golf is a lot for a player. It’s incredible that in his fourth event back, Zalatoris contended for another victory, especially considering the emotional trauma he carried.

He is on the right track, and a second PGA Tour win has to be in his future.

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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