Will Zalatoris WDs from the Masters ahead of first round tee time with back injury
AUGUSTA, Ga. – Will Zalatoris withdrew Thursday before his first-round tee time at the Masters because of a back injury.
The world No. 8 was scheduled to tee off with U.S. Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick and Collin Morikawa.
It’s the latest injury setback for Zalatoris, who missed the last four months of 2022 after suffering two herniated discs in his back. He also endured a stomach virus two weeks ago at the WGC-Match Play that caused him to lose seven pounds in a week.
Cleared to return to competition at the beginning of the year, Zalatoris has logged seven tournament starts as he tried to work his way back into form. He has posted just a single top-10 and said earlier this week he was “pretty upset with how I’ve played coming back.”
“But my back doctor texted me [Tuesday] and said, ‘Hey, enjoy this week, because this was the goal of coming back was to be here, and you’ve played seven events. You’re way ahead of schedule.’
“It’s kind of a nice little reminder that if you asked me in October, this was probably 50-50 me playing here, and the fact that I played seven events showed that I did the right things. I’ve had no pain over the last month.”
Zalatoris played 45 practice holes this week at Augusta National, where he finished second in his 2021 debut, but woke up Thursday morning with back stiffness. After hitting a few balls, he returned to the clubhouse to seek treatment because of spasms that sent pain down his left leg.
“[Wednesday] was as pumped and happy as he’s been since he came back,” coach Josh Gregory said. “That’s the part that’s the most demoralizing. He didn’t have any feelings of this coming into it. He just woke up this morning and his body shut down on him.”
After debating with his team about the best path forward, Zalatoris opted to withdraw.
“He just wasn’t going to take a chance and make it any worse,” Gregory said. “I have no idea how serious it is. We’re just trying to prolong the career and not take a dumb chance. Hopefully there’s going to be 20 more of these.
“He was emotional, I’m emotional, his whole team is emotional. He loves this place. But at the same time, he’s a young kid, he’s 26, so we can’t do anything to screw this up long term. Hopefully it’s just a spasm and it flared up and there’s nothing more than that.”