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It’s been clear all season that Will Zalatoris hasn’t been healthy.

After recording two top-11 finishes in his first four starts of 2023, the World No. 8 finished T53 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, 73rd at the Players Championship, and he withdrew after two matches at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. Willy Z made the trip to Augusta National Golf Club this week with hopes of teeing it up at the Masters, but he withdrew before the first round due to a back injury.

On Monday morning, Zalatoris announced that he underwent back surgery and will miss the remainder of the 2022-23 PGA Tour season. This couldn’t have come at a worse time for Zalatoris, as he’ll now miss at least four majors, the FedEx Cup Playoffs, and the 2023 Ryder Cup.

Will Zalatoris underwent back surgery and will be out the rest of the season

Will Zalatoris was on the cusp of greatness last year when he recorded two runner-up finishes in majors and won the FedEx St. Jude Championship in August. That momentum didn’t last long, though, as he suffered two herniated discs at the BMW Championship the following week. He missed the rest of the FedEx Cup Playoffs and the Presidents Cup before returning to the PGA Tour in January.

Willy Z was able to make seven starts in the 2022-23 season, but it was clear his back was still bothering him. After having to withdraw from the Masters before hitting a single tee shot, Zalatoris knew there was only one option left.

On Monday morning, Zalatoris announced on Instagram that he underwent a microdiscectomy surgery over the weekend and will be out for the rest of the season. If that sounds familiar, it’s because Tiger Woods has undergone multiple microdiscectomy procedures in his career.

“As much as I hate not being able to play the rest of this season, I am happy that I am already seeing the benefits of the procedure,” Zalatoris wrote in the statement. “Playing and living in pain is not fun.”

He’s right about that, but missing nearly a full PGA Tour season will be even more painful for the rising star.

Will Zalatoris’ back surgery couldn’t have come at a worse time

Will Zalatoris looks on during the Players Championship.
Will Zalatoris looks on during the final round of the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass | Brennan Asplen/PGA TOUR via Getty Images

This wasn’t supposed to be how Zalatoris’ 2022-23 season played out. After recording six top 10s and three runner-up finishes in his first 10 major championship starts, Willy Z was expected to make the leap from rising star to superstar this year. That clearly won’t be happening in 2023, and now, it might never happen for the 26-year-old.

Zalatoris will miss all four major championships this season in the prime of his career. He’ll also miss the 2023 FedEx Cup Playoffs in August, the Ryder Cup in September, and the start of the 2023-24 PGA Tour season the same month.

Additionally, Zalatoris is going to freefall down the Official World Golf Ranking. By missing at least five months of action on the PGA Tour, he’s in danger of watching his name drop from No. 8 to outside the top 50 in the next few months. That could potentially affect his ability to qualify for major championships next season.

There’s no guarantee Zalatoris will return from this setback as the same player he was in 2022. We’ve seen back injuries quickly derail careers on the PGA Tour, Tiger Woods being the most extreme example. Jason Day was the No. 1 player in the world and a major championship winner before his back went south, and he hasn’t won on the PGA Tour in five years.

Hopefully, this is just a minor blip in Zalatoris’ young career, but this setback couldn’t have come at a worse time.


1 Missed Putt Still Haunts Will Zalatoris Every Day on the Practice Green