New US star Will Zalatoris is good friends with Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre and thinks he’s the best driver he’s ever seen.
The stick-thin young Texan wowed everyone with his superb performance at the Masters, meaning that MacIntyre wasn’t the best debutant this year at Augusta. But the two have been good friends for a long while.
“I first met Bob when he was at MacNeese State (in Louisiana) and I was at (Arnold Palmer’s old university) Wake Forest,” said Zalatoris, who is making his first competitive trip as pro to the abrdn Scottish Open at The Renaissance.
“So we’ve known each other since 2015. He drives it, I think, the best ever I’ve seen out of anybody.
‘He’s just out there ripping drivers’
“I played with him at Bel-Air in Los Angeles the first two days of the US Am one year, and Bel-Air is 6,700 yards, very short, very tight. He’s just out there ripping drivers down the middle of fairways between trees and water.
“And I’m over there hitting 3-irons and thinking I’m doing all right, and he’s flipping wedges in and shoot 65 and I’m shooting 68.
“Bob is a great guy. He keeps me in stitches every time I’m around him, he’s so funny. He’s one of my best buds out here, at least on The European Tour.”
Zalatoris played competitively as an amateur in Europe at the Palmer Cup. He also had a family trip when he was younger, playing Turnberry and Gleneagles.
“All I wanted to do was play golf, so I didn’t appreciate that we had to go to London as well,” he said.
‘It’s not exactly links golf but I love it’
“You know, it’s kind of similar to actually how we play in the wintertime back home. Texas is very dry, and so we get a lot of wind and fog and it gets a little firm.
“You’ve got to keep it on the ground, keep it underneath the wind. It’s not exactly links golf, but I love it. Week-in, week-out on the PGA Tour we try to hit it as high as we can. Out here we’re trying to keep it as low as we can.”
He’s enjoyed his first experience of the Renaissance Club.
“You have to be really precise and really smart,” he said, “There are some absolute brutal par 4s, No. 11 at 490 yards, it played into the wind yesterday.
“I think I was hitting 4-iron in, and I’m one of the Top-25 longest guys on the tour. That means guys will be hitting even longer clubs in.”