Some player-caddie relationships are better than others, and when the partnership inevitably ends, it’s either a great relief for one or both or it can be as upsetting as a true divorce. Count Will Zalatoris’ parting with looper Ryan Goble as closer to the latter.
Zalatoris and Goble decided on the most unusual of partings on Friday when they split in the middle of the Wyndham Championship. Josh Gregory, an instructor for Zalatoris, was on the bag Saturday at Sedgefield Country Club, and the world’s 14th-ranked player shot a second straight 66 to get into a tie for 15th.
From the way Zalatoris described it, the breakup was rough. Really rough.
“It was the toughest decision I’ve had to make in my golf career,” Zalatoris, 25, said after his third round that was completed before a second weather delay. “Ryan’s a brother for life. We’ve kind of had a rough month together and it was starting to affect our relationship. I know guys say that when they split, but it really was.
“We were guys that we would love to have dinner together and hang out. … What was going on on the course was starting bleed off the course and that’s not what you want. He’s an incredible friend, I love him to death, and I told him I had to do what’s best for me.”
Gregory’s work is only for this weekend and Zalatoris said he would have Joel Stock on the bag for the upcoming PGA Tour FedEx Cup Playoffs. Stock looped a decade for Ben Crane and has more recently caddied for Kevin Tway and Cameron Tringale.
Zalatoris is having a tremendous season, though he hasn’t won. Among his three runners-up are a playoff loss to Justin Thomas in the PGA Championship and finishing one stroke back of champion Matt Fitzpatrick in the U.S. Open.
As for the last month that the native Californian referred to, he missed the cut in the Scottish Open, tied for 28th in the Open Championship and was T-20 in the Rocket Mortgage Classic. He was 11th in the FedEx standings heading into this week.
On Saturday, Zalatoris’ round was ignited by a flop shot that tracked into the hole for a birdie at the par-4 11th. It was part of a stretch from 10 in which Zalatoris went bogey-birdie-bogey-birdie-birdie.