GREENSBOROW, NC — As Will Zalatoris signed autographs for Wyndham Championship spectators following the conclusion of his third round on Saturday, a few feet away from coach-turned-caddy, Josh Gregory explained what he tried to sign during his emergency role. .
“I hope I smile a little,” said Gregory. “Most importantly, he needed to laugh and smile. He needed to have some fun. I think it’s just commitment. I’m as positive as I can be with the coach and I was just super positive with him.”
This created a contrasting scene in regards to the events that followed Zalatoris’ finish in the previous round on Friday at Sedgefield Country Club when he fired caddy Ryan Goble and called it “The hardest decision I’ve ever had to make in my golfing career.”
The former Wake Forest star and one of the best players in the world hit 4 balls under par 66 on Saturday to move up to 7 points in the tournament, five strokes behind leaders Sungjae Yim and Brandon Wu. The third round was suspended due to a storm on Saturday and will resume at 7:30 am ET Sunday.
Zalatoris delivered eight birdies in a day, recovering from a double ghost on the second hole and enduring two ghosts on the back nine with 47-year-old Gregory, his short game coach, for the first time in history.
Zalatoris, 25, said Goble was his only caddy on the sanctioned pro tour and said “he’s basically been my best friend for the past three years.” However, he added: “We both got a little uncomfortable and obviously it hurt” in regards to their relationship – a partnership that produced eight top 10 finishesincluding a second-place finish at the PGA Championship and the US Open, as well as over $6.6 million in revenue this season.
“We had a rough month together and it started to take a toll on our relationship,” he said. “I know guys say that when they break up, but it’s true. We were guys who would like to have dinner together and hang out, and what was happening on the field started to flow out of the field, which is not what you want.
Zalatoris said Joel Stock will play for him in the FedEx Cup, a PGA Tour playoff starting next week in Memphis. Gregory said he was the caddy for Henrik Norlander at the Phoenix Open in February.
“It’s time for a change,” Gregory said of the rift between Zalatoris and Goble. “And frankly, it’s better for both of them. Change is coming anyway, and it’s time to go ahead and rip off the band-aid.”
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Zalatoris started the third round six shots ahead. Then an unfortunate timing from the tee hit him with a double bogey on the second hole down to 1 under.
“Even when he doubled on the second hole, I just said, ‘Hey, let’s go see how many birds we can make.’ Let’s have some fun,” said Gregory. And that’s what he needed. And then he just needed a little more commitment, a little more confidence in his decisions. So just tell him how good he is. It’s pretty easy when you’re carrying his bag. He’s really good.”
This article originally appeared on Times-News: Will Zalatoris explains why he fired caddy Ryan Goble in the middle of a tournament