’Happy Gilmore caddy’ Will Zalatoris wanted to be on Masters stage his entire life
AUGUSTA - Will Zalatoris had been waiting for his Masters moment his entire life and when it came on Sunday, not even golf's biggest stage was enough to intimidate the fearless 24-year-old American finishing solo second one shot behind winner Hideki Matsuyama.
Zalatoris arrived at the year's first major as a little known commodity on the PGA Tour, but departs Augusta National heralded as sport's newest rising star.
Also Zalatoris became popular on social media for a different reason.
People likened the Masters rookie’s appearance to the caddy that helped out Happy Gilmore at The Waterbury Open in Adam Sandler's 1996 cult comedy.
Have fun today young man. Mr. Gilmore is watching you and very proud. pic.twitter.com/iwOEuMdR8W— Adam Sandler (@AdamSandler) April 11, 2021
Between the blonde curly hair, the youthfulness and the scrawny frame ... the resemblance is there.
Even Sandler joked about it on Twitter while wishing Zalatoris well ahead of his final round.
Zalatoris saw the funny side and responded with a tweet of his own after the final round.
If you’re ever in need of a caddie again let me know. I’ll be better this time. I’m always available for you, Mr. Gilmore. https://t.co/R1e8awZIvh— Will Zalatoris (@WillZalatoris) April 12, 2021
Displaying veteran poise and confidence, Zalatoris remained focused throughout the final round, refusing to be overwhelmed by the moment. He produced four under par rounds, including a two-under 70 final round that left him one haunting stroke short of forcing a playoff for the champion's Green Jacket.
"I wanted to be on this stage forever, basically my entire life, so I think if anything you get to this moment and why should I wait now, let's go do some damage and it was a fun week," said Zalatoris, who gained late entry to the Masters with his top-50 world ranking. "I felt I played well this week but I left a lot out there.
"I think the fact that I'm frustrated I finished second in my third major says something, and the fact that I didn't let any moment really get to me, was really exciting.
"I think, if anything, it's just the fact that I'm one shot short. It's just kind of sitting right in front of me, thinking through where I could have found that one or two shots, really."
Zalatoris might anguish over two bogeys that came just after the turn that dropped him down the leaderboard.
No doubt he would want his tee shot back on the 12th and a redo on the five-foot putt that would have saved par.
His putter also deserted him on the 10th where he made the green in two but needed three putts to get in the hole, taking another bogey.
"It was an absolute treat," said Zalatoris summing up his Masters debut. "Obviously to come up one short and be disappointed is motivating but obviously very exciting.
"And obviously my two majors as a pro, I finished sixth and runner-up. I know if I keep doing what I doing, I'm going to have a really good chance in the future."
Reuters and IOL Sport