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At the AT&T Byron Nelson, it's evident Will Zalatoris has come full circle with his game

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MCKINNEY, Texas – Golfer Bill Rodgers, who won four times on the PGA Tour in the magical year of 1981, once said the only thing about winning on Tour is that people expect you to do it again. That’s something Dallas’ Will Zalatoris, the surprise breakout star as runner-up in the 2021 Masters, is quickly finding out.

Zalatoris, 24, still a rookie and not an official member of the PGA Tour yet, logged tons of TV time in his Masters tour de force, got a Twitter call-out from actor Adam Sandler, and was trending on just about every social media platform you could find.

But as he heads into his first hometown event, the AT&T Byron Nelson this week, since his Masters appearance, Zalatoris knows his legions of friends and family on hand at TPC Craig Ranch are eager to see him do it again.

“The only pressure I feel is the pressure I put on myself. I mean, of course there’s a lot of people that think I could play on a Ryder Cup team or win a major or whatever,” he said  “I’ve now kind of had a little bit more of a breakout where more people have seen me play, but it’s still the same for me. People might think I could do more, think I could do better, but the goals I put on myself or the pressure that I put on myself is the only pressure that I really feel.”

Will Zalatoris (Photo by Art Stricklin)

Zalatoris said he has been going to the Byron Nelson PGA Tour event since he was 9 years old and nothing would mean more than a win or a top performance this week, but he is determined to stay the course in his promising game.

“I missed the cut last week (Wells Fargo in Charlotte) and I haven’t missed one in eight months and so of course you might think there’s a little bit of a freak out,” he admitted, “but it’s like, it’s just golf, man. I mean, the sun’s going to rise tomorrow. Like, I’m still playing some really nice golf, just go hit a couple hours of golf balls, putt for a few hours, and keep working on things you’re doing and it will pay off.”

None of that comes as any surprise to his longtime teacher and mentor, former Dallas golf pro David Price, who worked with Zalatoris since he was a pre-teen at Bent Tree Country Club.

“I called Will the day after the Masters to congratulate him and tell him how proud I was of him and the first thing out of his mouth was, ‘Did you know I was only 1-under-par on the 13th hole at Augusta and (winner) Hideki (Matsuyama) was 5-under in the tournament? That’s where I lost right there. I’m going to have to do better next year.’

“I just called to congratulate him and right away he wanted to talk how he could get better,” Price chuckled “That’s why he is so good. He played two good rounds at Hilton Head the week after the Masters, but really he just ran out of gas. He will be back at the top soon, I know it.”

From a young kid collecting autographs behind the 18th green at the Nelson (Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin was his favorite) to a player now being stopped by strangers asking for his autograph, Zalatoris said he has come full circle in his game.

“I’m excited for this week and to have my fiancé and mom and dad here, it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Especially if he can just do it again with his golfing abilities.

original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2021/05/13/pga-tour-att-byron-nelson-will-zalatoris-dallas/

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