Will Zalatoris felt the aura of Tiger Woods at the PGA Championship.
The rising PGA Tour star said last week at Southern Hills was the first time he had witnessed Woods playing inside the ropes in the same tournament he was also competing in. During the first two rounds of the major, Zalatoris’ group was one ahead of Woods’ pairing that also included Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth.
“You’ve heard the vets say, ‘Hey, just don’t watch him, you play your own game,’ and it’s like, ‘Come on, this is the first time I get to see him really play in person and see the crowds,’” Zalatoris told reporters on Wednesday ahead of the Charles Schwab Challenge.
“The crowds Thursday-Friday I thought were bigger than Saturday-Sunday, at least in my groups. It was nuts. I played a practice round in front of him Wednesday and it was 35 people deep on [hole eight]. It was just absurd.”
Zalatoris was in the final group on Saturday and the second-to-last one on Sunday, ultimately losing in a three-hole playoff to Justin Thomas. The 25-year-old was also in contention at the 2021 Masters, but seeing Woods in action left him with a different feeling.
“Being able to just appreciate those moments (watching Woods) and kind of just be present and enjoy it, that’s why, to me, I almost had to — it almost felt like I [have] imposter syndrome where I look back on it and go, ‘Wait, you were in a playoff for the PGA Championship?’”
Imposter syndrome is a fraudulent feeling that comes when you compare yourself to high-achieving contemporaries. While Woods is a legend even among his peers, Zalatoris appears to be headed to his own level of stardom in the sport.
Woods withdrew after shooting an ugly 79 at the third round of the PGA Championship as he continues to recover from severe leg injuries suffered in a car accident last year.