AUSTIN, Texas – Willy learned how to putt.
Will Zalatoris may look like Happy Gilmore’s caddie, but he channeled Adam Sandler’s main character on Friday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.
After not making anything outside of 6 feet through 15 holes of his final pool-play match opposite Viktor Hovland, Zalatoris caught fire with the flatstick. He holed four crucial birdie putts down the stretch:
No. 16: 11 feet, 10 inches.
No. 18: 11 feet, 9 inches.
First playoff hole: 10 feet, 5 inches.
Second playoff hole: 9 feet, 9 inches.
Those clutch makes, which were all dead in the throat and followed by big fist pumps, allowed Zalatoris to hang on for a 1-up victory against Hovland in regulation and then clip the Norwegian in extra holes to advance to Saturday’s Round of 16 at Austin Country Club.
“Anytime you putt as good as I did today, every putt I hit looked like it was going in or was around the edge,” Zalatoris said. “So, I was really proud of the way how I came back after yesterday. I really didn't roll it that well, I thought. … Keep doing what we're doing and hopefully have more of this.”
Zalatoris switched putters after The Players, keeping the arm-lock style but changing to a more face-balanced head.
“That’s really it,” Zalatoris said. “Just making sure that my timing and my routine's the same, and target, ball, go. … Nice to see it hold up under pressure really in the first week.”
Zalatoris draws Kevin Na to begin the knockout stage, so maybe he’ll next learn how to walk putts in.