Having withdrawn from the Masters in April, Zalatoris subsequently underwent back surgery and has spent the last eight months on the sidelines. It was a tough start back to life as a professional though, for the American, who ended up propping up the 20-man field after the first round at the Hero World Challenge, on nine-over.
The 27-year-old had switched to the broomstick putter prior to the week as he looked to grapple with his long-standing putting woes. However, the remedy wasn't immediately forthcoming, with Zalatoris bottom of the pile in terms of the strokes gained putting stats in the first round, losing almost six shots on the field.
An improved second-round display saw him shoot a resilient four-under-par 68, but fans were still quick to spot evidence of a shaky putting stroke on Friday.
And yet... pic.twitter.com/x7ODPfMKOJDecember 1, 2023
Zalatoris has always struggled with the putter - regularly outside the top 100 in Strokes Gained: Putting - but has claimed his unusual putting stroke works for him despite its appearance being less than easy on the eye.
When discussing his putter switch before the event, Zalatoris said the move was, in part, to help reduce stress on his back, but also to try and find a way of improving on the greens.
Former pro-turned-commentator, Smylie Kaufman, believes the American merely needs more time to fine-tune his technique with the new putter: "Willy Z hasn’t played in 7 months competitively and his first day back was with an entirely new putter on a windy day," Kaufman wrote on X. "I personally love the way he rolls it...even though the ball wasn’t going in the hole yesterday. Just needs reps!"
Elsewhere at the Hero, World No.1 Scottie Scheffler, who also has a new putter in play this week, surged into a tie for the lead after round two alongside Jordan Spieth. Both sit at -9 with Brian Harman a shot further back at eight under.