That’s when Denton, the director of instruction at Dallas’ Maridoe Golf Club, gave Zalatoris his arm-lock putter. It was a prototype that had been made for Denton to use in the PGA Professional National Championship.
“I said, ‘There’s just no option anymore,’” Denton said. The arm-lock is the same method that resurrected the career of another Wake Forest alum, Webb Simpson, and turned Bryson DeChambeau into one of the TOUR’s top putters.
If there’s one thing that impresses Denton more than Zalatoris’ ball-striking, however, it’s his zeal for the game. Zalatoris bought in to the change. Breaking 60 so soon confirmed that he was on the right path.
“I immediately knew that if I can roll it that well, I know I can compete against the best in the world and I just need to stay patient,” he said.
After a several months of tinkering with the putter’s weight and loft and finding the right setup, Zalatoris settled on the proper putter configuration.
He needed just eight starts to earn special temporary membership on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2019. This year, he’s posted 11 consecutive top-20 finishes. It’s the longest streak in that circuit’s history and still ongoing, though it’s uncertain when, or if, he’ll need to return to the Korn Ferry Tour.
He needs another 95 non-member FedExCup points to earn special temporary status on the PGA TOUR for this season. Whether through his PGA TOUR starts – he still has seven sponsor exemptions to use, and a spot in the 2021 U.S. Open locked up – or his Korn Ferry Tour success, he’s all but ensured of owning a TOUR card next season.
“He loves to play golf at a level very few people do,” Denton said. “He just needed to find that belief. If he can just be neutral in Strokes Gained with the putter, he’s going to play good because he’s always been a very gifted ball-striker.”
He showed that two weeks ago at Winged Foot, where he finished sixth in the U.S. Open while leading the field in Strokes Gained: Approach (+1.99 per round) and was in the middle of the pack in Strokes Gained: Putting (39th, +0.15 per round). He made a hole-in-one in the first round and was inches from making a second after his tee shot on the 215-yard 13th hole bounced off the flagstick. He closed that opening round by hitting his final two approach shots – from 174 and 134 yards – within 3 feet.
He also gained a career-high 3.1 strokes on the greens in a final-round 71 that moved him up 11 spots on the leaderboard. Only one player, DeChambeau, broke par on that difficult final day at Winged Foot.
Last Sunday, he had to go low to earn another TOUR start. He shot 65 to jump from T45 to T8.
Gregory said they’ve put the majority of weight in Zalatoris’ left side and shortened his backstroke to eliminate as many variables as possible.
“Once you start seeing them go in and doing the same thing day-in and day-out,” Gregory said, “you start believing you’re a great putter.”
Source: PGA tour