Will Zalatoris continues to rule the majors

TULSA, Oklahoma – If it’s a major championship, Will Zatoris is in the running.

Zatoris, 25, is back at this week’s PGA Championship in Southern Hills, a shot ahead of Rory McIlroy. Zatoris shot a 4-under par 66.

In his short career he has finished second and sixth at the Masters, eighth at his only PGA and sixth at the US Open.

Why so well in the majors?

“They’re just tough,” he said on Thursday. “You have to carve your way around them, no matter what major it is. Even in Augusta, where the greens are incredibly wavy, you can place yourself in some pretty good spots and that’s where you’ll get your best looks.

Will Zalatoris plays his shot from the 10th tee during round one of the 2022 PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club on May 19, 2022 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Will Zalatoris plays his shot from the 10th tee during the first round of the 2022 PGA Championship.
Getty Images

“I thought that being the ball forward that I am, of course that shows in the first six or so Majors of my career. But beyond that, I think it’s that attitude that I’ve basically wanted to achieve since I was a little kid, and it’s liberating in a way.

“Obviously today is Thursday,” he continued. “My thoughts will nowhere meander in that direction [winning]but that’s kind of my general attitude, you get four of these a year, they’re special and I don’t want to leave anything to chance.”

One thing left to chance is the 18th hole at Southern Hills which, with its length, incline and winding creek, is one of the toughest in major championship history.

“I think the members have to fear 18,” Matt Kuchar said after spinning a 3-under 67. “I try to imagine how they play it. I don’t know if they can swing far enough forward to enjoy this golf hole. It is difficult. it’s a beast It’s a tough driving hole, and then having 200 yards straight uphill is certainly a terribly challenging approach shot. It’s a tough question.”

Zalatoris said: “It was 490 degrees uphill against the wind. That’s all you want It is also the hardest green on the golf course. You want to be able to go into that hole on Sunday, whoever is going to win that tournament, you want to have a cushion.

Few had a better start to the tournament than club pro Jesse Mueller, who potted for Eagle on his first hole, the par-4 10.

“I hit a really good drive and then that pin placement was a viable pin placement if you could hit it in the right place,” he said after a 2-over-72. “I tried to hit him long and right and then hopefully it would pull back and it went in. What a start to my first ever PGA championship. Pretty amazing.”

Jesse Mueller, with his caddy and wife Jessie, walks on the 17th hole during the first round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at Southern Hills Country Club, Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Tulsa, Okla.
Jesse Mueller walks the fairway on the 17th hole with his caddy and wife Jessie.

Mueller, whose wife is his caddie and who works for Grand Canyon University, said he knew his shot would be close because it landed, “but I didn’t know until I saw the reaction at the top of the green because of of the second beat is somehow increased. When everyone started cheering, it was one of those cheers you know you’re going in for. That was pretty special.”

The early leaderboard was intriguing, with John Daly and YE Yang sharing the top of the board at 2-under in the morning. Daly, who won the 1991 PGA and uses a cart because of a chronic knee condition, finished the tournament in a 2-for-72. Yang, who famously defeated Tiger Woods to win the 2009 PGA, finished the tournament 1-on-71.

The winner of the best turnaround of the day was the Aussie Cam Smith, who was 2-over par on eight holes and finished the day 2-under.

“I guess it kind of changed there, just a little mental reset,” said the reigning Players champion. “I felt like I played pretty good golf on my back nine but unfortunately a couple of times here with gusts and stuff like that you can do some pretty quick bogeys and doubles if you’re not careful. ” Will Zalatoris continues to rule the majors


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