Zalatoris stands out in a loaded playing field at Bay Hill

Arnold Palmer Scholarship recipient is looking to add to his recent success

Will Zalatoris surveys the scene on the 18th hole during his practice round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. (Photo by: Cristian Ceniti) 

BAY HILL, Fla. – Will Zalatoris is carrying momentum into the Arnold Palmer Invitational, a PGA TOUR event he will always cherish.

Despite being born in San Francisco and growing up in the suburbs of Dallas, the 27-year-old is intimately connected to the Bay Hill Club & Lodge and has been for a while.

It started a decade ago when Zalatoris finished high school and had numerous colleges vying for his attendance. Evidently he wasn’t faced with much choice at all.

“I always tell people that when I got offered the Arnold Palmer Scholarship to go to Wake Forest that my decision was kind of made for me at that point,” Zalatoris said following his practice round on Tuesday. “Even though I never got to meet him, the guy’s meant a lot to me personally and my career.”

There’s more than a connection to The King pushing Zalatoris in this tournament, having found success early in his season. He’s coming off a runner-up finish at the Genesis Open in Los Angeles, an encouraging result to take into his fourth straight appearance at the invitational.

Bay Hill has built a reputation as an unforgiving venue but Zalatoris has grown accustomed to that and is embracing the challenge.

“It’s a beast of a golf course, for one. We always joke about how the week gets harder and harder,” said Zalatoris, in search of his second win on the PGA TOUR. “By Sunday, everyone’s always kind of joking about how Arnie’s smiling from heaven watching the carnage.”

An additional wrinkle to the 2024 Arnold Palmer Invitational is the Signature Event designation. It cuts the playing field nearly in half, from 120 to 70.

“Having 50 less guys, there’s no question about it, that’s a different feel, for sure,” Zalatoris said. “You look at the 70 guys in the field, you probably could list off, off the top of your head, if you were to just take a regular golf fan, they could probably guess 65 out of the 70.”

The competition will be stiffer than ever for Zalatoris but the schedule has lined up well for him with his play, confidence and motivation riding high into a week he’s sure to remember.

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Posted: Mar 6 2024 10:20 am
Filed under: Golf Sports