Willy Z had a nice debut at The American Express last year. The Texan struggled to a 1-under-71 at La Quinta in round one before lighting it up for an 11-under 61 the next day at the Nicklaus course. He made a whopping 10 straight birdies on holes 3-12.
Zalatoris made just one bogey on the weekend at the Stadium course (70-67) but couldn’t go low enough to contend, finishing T-6th. Based on stats for the field at Stadium, he was fifth in strokes gained tee to green (5.706). For all four rounds, he was T-3rd in scrambling (85%).
Zalatoris will be making his second start of the 2022-23 PGA Tour season this week. He had to withdraw from the BMW Championship last year due to a back injury that sidelined him until the Sentry Tournament of Champions a couple weeks ago. Taking T-11th and finishing in the top third of a limited but elite field at Kapalua was a good showing. He was in the 60s all four days and closed with an 8-under 65.
"“…overall very pleased,” Zalatoris was transcribed by ASAP Sports. “Back feels great. Just kind of hit some stupid stuff early in the week to shake off some rust. Pretty nice to shoot 20-under. Josh my coach even said, he was, he’s like, Just four rounds being healthy was kind of the goal this week and obviously you’re way ahead of the curve.”"
If the back is good to go like Zalatoris claims, I expect him to get back to the form that’s got him at a career-best seventh in the Official World Golf Ranking. The last tournament he finished resulted in his maiden PGA Tour victory to open the playoffs at the FedEx St. Jude Championship.
Aside from Sepp Straka, who he beat in a playoff, Zalatoris was three shots clear of the rest of a stacked field.
Zalatoris ranked first on the PGA Tour last season in SG approach per round (1.063). He ought to be able to aim right at the pro-am pins in play this week. He was also first in SG tee to green (1.77).