Will Zalatoris the Latest Walker Cupper to Turn Pro
Will Zalatoris is forgoing his final semester at Wake Forest to turn pro
(December 15, 2017) - When Will Zalatoris
was 12 years old, he qualified for the 2009 U.S. Junior Amateur. That year at Trump National in Bedminster, N.J., he played his first round of stroke play with a kid named Patrick Cantlay
– and “I had no idea who he was,” Zalatoris said. Later on that week, another kid, this one named Jordan Spieth
, hoisted the trophy, his first of two U.S. Junior titles.
Zalatoris went on to play four more U.S. Juniors, and on his fifth try won, defeating Davis Riley in the final match at The Club at Carlton Woods in The Woodlands, Texas. Among those competing in the field that week: Marty Dou, a PGA Tour rookie this season; Austin Connelly, a European Tour member who contended at the 2017 British Open; Curtis Luck, who will play on the Web.com Tour this season; Ryan Ruffels, who has teed it up several times on the PGA Tour so far in his young career and has his PGA Tour Latinoamerica card; and Sam Horsfield, who recently medaled at European Tour Q-School.
Zalatoris, now 21, has decided to join those aforementioned players in the pro ranks. The Plano, Texas, native announced Thursday that he will forgo his final semester at Wake Forest.
“I am so grateful for the opportunity Coach (Jerry) Haas and Coach (Dan) Walters gave me over the last three-and-a-half years,” Zalatoris said in a statement. “I’ve learned a lot about the game and life from both of them. I am especially thankful for my teammates for being great supporters of my decision and for the memories we have shared together. I am excited for the next chapter of my golf career as a professional as well as finishing my degree.”
Zalatoris amassed 24 top-10s, including 15 top-5s and four victories, at Wake Forest. His 70.44 career scoring average is a school record, breaking the previous mark of 70.87, held by current PGA Tour player Bill Haas (2001-04). Last season, Zalatoris was named the ACC Player of the Year in addition to earning first-team All-America honors.
This past summer, Zalatoris reached the Round of 16 at the U.S. Amateur and also helped the U.S. win the Walker Cup. In four career starts in pro events, two of which came on the PGA Tour, Zalatoris has missed the cut.
“Coach Dan Walters and I are happy for Will as he turns professional in hopes of soon joining Bill Haas, Webb Simpson and Kyle Reifers on the PGA Tour,” Haas said in a statement. “Will came to Wake Forest on the Arnold Palmer Scholarship and has made a tremendous impact on our program. It will be hard to replace a player of his caliber, but I know our team is excited about this upcoming spring.”
Zalatoris was ranked 18th in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings after the fall. Wake Forest is ranked No. 13 as a team. The Deacons will now look to Cameron Young, ranked No. 35 by Golfweek, and GB&I Walker Cupper Paul McBride, ranked No. 102, to help lead the team back to the NCAA Championship.