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Will Zalatoris using recovery time to finish degree, eyes return to golf in October


For the first time in his life, Will Zalatoris isn’t fully immersed in his golf career.

So what has he been up to?

“I’m graduating right now, finishing up my degree from Wake Forest,” Zalatoris said Monday on the “Chris Vernon Show”. “Now, I’m starting to be able to do stuff, it’s great. Because the first eight weeks where I wasn’t able to do anything ... I ordered every book I could possibly find and I’m not much of a reader. I’m like signing up for classes. I’m finding stuff to do just because I knew I was going to go insane.”

The 26-year-old, who forwent his final semester at Wake Forest in 2017 to turn professional, claimed his maiden PGA Tour victory last year at the FedEx St. Jude Championship amid a season of many close calls. However, less than a week later, Zalatoris suffered two herniated disks during a tee shot at the BMW Championship, causing him to shelve his clubs for the rest of 2022.

He returned to competition in January and made seven starts with one top-5 and one other top-20. He said he was 100% healthy at the Masters, but just a day later, he withdrew from the year’s first major and then underwent season-ending back surgery.

Zalatoris, though, is finally making strides toward a return.

“I feel good; it’s been a long 13 weeks,” he said Monday at the FedEx St. Jude Championship media day. “It’s been a long process, but I feel good. Thirteen weeks has been long, and a lot of hard work has gone into getting me to this point. I’m starting to chip again, and in about six more weeks, start working my way up through the golf bag.

“I’m looking at the fall tournaments (in October). There’s no rush on how many I play in the fall; it’s just making sure I get some competitive reps in before January. After 12 weeks, essentially, the integrity of the joint is at its max. It’s just that everything needs to settle into place.”

Of course, the 2021 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year would love to be knee-deep in this year’s Tour season and preparing to tee it up at this week’s Open Championship. But he’s managed to find a silver lining during his recovery.

“I’m mentally very fresh, I’m really looking forward to coming back,” he told Vernon. “I think the last six months have been really good for me to kind of — really the last year, kind of grow and mature as a man and professional.”