Will Zalatoris opens up about the challenges of returning from back surgery

Zalatoris mentioned that he is still getting used to a recent change in his golf swing

by Sead Dedovic
Will Zalatoris opens up about the challenges of returning from back surgery
© Harry How / Getty Images Sport

Will Zalatoris knew that coming back from back surgery would not be easy. After surgery, it takes some time to fully recover but also to return to training. 

In an interview with the media, Zalatoris confirmed that he had to make some changes; First of all, he had to make changes to his swing. 

Zalatoris showed his quality at the Genisis Invitational, finishing two shots behind the lead after the first round. After the first round, this great golfer spoke about the challenging conditions at the tournament. The wind was causing a huge problem for everyone, including Zalatoris.

“The front side today was nice because we're not having a ton of wind, and then the back side going back into the wind for five holes [was more difficult]. Even though seven under is leading and a bunch of guys are five-plus under, I think I hit gap wedge on 18 from 162 [yards]. It just shows you how windy it is.” - Zalatoris said, as quoted by golfmonthly.com

Zalatoris did not have an ideal start to the season after returning from back surgery. The Hero World Challenge did not prove to be a good tournament for him, considering that he finished last. Nevertheless, Zalatoris made progress from tournament to tournament. Will confirmed that the main reason for some of his better performances was extra time off. He used those moments to recover physically, but he also worked a lot on the mental level. This great golfer realized that he had to adapt from tournament to tournament, which turned out to be the right thing to do. Returning after an injury, it is crucial to adapt and use your potential to the maximum.

“I think the extra time off helped. I could've come back in six months but I took eight. It really gave me time to really think about things. Saying I finished a top 20 at Hero was not really the start I was looking for, finishing last by nine.

But I think I'm trending every week and I'm learning something new about my game and where I'm at and the changes to my game and just getting used to it.

I used to play the ball a little bit back in my stance a bunch, and now I'm playing it forward. It helps me be a bit more horizontal as opposed to so vertical, which puts a bunch of issues obviously on my back.”

Zalatoris mentioned that he is still getting used to a recent change in his golf swing. He explained that, for now, it's something he has to consciously think about during his rounds.  When you play a sport for years, you do most of it unconsciously. However, injuries force you to change your playing style and adapt. It can be a very difficult process. In the process of adaptation, you have a chance to learn a lot and realize that golf is a sport in which you often have to adapt.

Despite performing well on the front nine, he admitted that he still needs to focus on the mechanics of his swing. Zalatoris hopes that with more rounds of play and by putting himself in contention in the upcoming week, he will gradually become more comfortable with the changes to his swing. No one doubts that Zalatoris will get better and better over time.

Will Zalatoris changes during his return to golf

Zalatoris made changes during his return to golf, including switching to a new broomstick putter. Despite not being able to practice with it for an extended period, he took time to get used to its feel and mechanics.

Will Zalatoris
Will Zalatoris© Ronald Martinez / Getty Images Sport

 It took a few months for him to figure out the best way to use it. Facing difficulties in windy conditions, he dedicated practice time to improve in those situations. 

After struggling in the wind during a tournament in Hawaii, Zalatoris realized the importance of practicing in such conditions. With the new putter, he now treats every putt as a straight one, focusing on sticking to a specific spot and accepting the outcome, even if the putt goes a bit past the target.  The 27-year-old golfer can use this moment to make huge progress.

Zalatoris put an accent on his past challenges during a return from injury last year, highlighting the importance of simplicity in his current comeback. He recognizes the need to adhere to his strengths as a ball striker and streamline his approach, avoiding unnecessary pressure and complexities. Maybe Zalatoris is thinking too much about various aspects of his game in these moments, but the injury is the reason why sometimes you have to think about a lot.

The emphasis is on comfort, with the gradual addition of speed to his game. Zalatoris evaluates his performance in the Bahamas, noting incremental improvements each week. He intends to continue playing in the upcoming weeks to sustain the positive momentum of his comeback journey.