Will Zatoris leads the PGA Championship into the weekend

TULSA, Oklahoma – Let the gunfight begin.

The 104th PGA Championship has been a tumultuous ride over the first two days, with the typically whipping Oklahoma winds ravaging some of the world’s best players.

The survivors will continue the weekend in Southern Hills, where Will Zlatoris, a 25-year-old Texan who hails the wind like most Texans, takes a one-shot lead going into the third round on Saturday.

Zlatoris, who has yet to win a PGA Tour event but has had an uncanny touch at major championships, is back in a Major, in competition. He followed his opening round of 66 with a 65 on Friday and is 9-under ahead of Mito Pereira by one shot after the 27-year-old from Chile, who is only playing in his second career major, shot 64 to reach 8-under .

Will Zalatoris
Will Zalatoris has never won a PGA Tour event.
EPA

Justin Thomas, the 2017 PGA winner, is 6-under after carding his second straight 67 on Friday.

Bubba Watson, who delivered the most dazzling round of the tournament with a 7-under 63, put himself in a winning position with a 5-under.

Rory McIlroy, who took the first-round lead on Thursday with a 65, struggled to match similar momentum on Friday, shooting 1-for-71 to be at 4-under. He is joined on this number by Mexico’s Abraham Ancer and Riley Davis.

If you go by history, the tournament is a losing one for Zatoris, because in the last seven major championships played at Southern Hills, all seven players who lead after 36 holes have won – most recently Tiger Woods in 2007.

“I’ve got a long 36-hole head of mine,” Zatoris said.

Zulatoris was part of the afternoon wave of tee times which was a huge advantage given the morning winds were lashing.

“We were certainly lucky with the draw,” he said. “I played the last eight holes with little wind, but you take it when you can get it.”

Will Zalatoris
Will Zatoris leads the PGA Championship into the weekend.
AP

Zalatoris also admitted at a few breaks during his round that he “got away with murder”.

As for whether he’s ready to win for the first time, Zulatoris said he took inspiration from what fellow Texan Scottie Scheffler said after winning the Masters last month.

“Something Scottie Scheffler said the other day I think resonates a lot that made him a great champion,” Zalatoris said. “He said it was faith. I think that’s about the same attitude that every one of us out here has to win, whether it’s a regular event, a Korn Ferry event, or a Major. Maybe it’s a fake-it-til-you-make-it attitude, I don’t know. But I think there is a bit of the aspect that these are golf courses like this, where my shot can do the talking.”

So far so good for Zatoris, whose ball strikes were exquisite.

Pereira, like Zalaroris, who played in the afternoon, spoke of how “lucky” they were to get the afternoon draw on Friday.

“Sometimes you get the bad draw, sometimes the good one, but today the wind was definitely in the back nine, there was almost none,” he said.

Watson, who was also the beneficiary of the afternoon tee time, said he was “nervous with every single shot [and] on every single putt. I had no idea. The greens are bumpy. Let’s just call it what it is. They are uneven and a little hairier today.”

They were bumpy and slower because PGA officials chose not to cut and roll them for fear the morning wind would render them unplayable.

“I’m playing well,” said Watson. “Forget the golf course. It’s about trusting yourself. If you don’t feel confident out there, it doesn’t matter if you have the perfect length, the perfect racquet. It does not matter. Today I trusted it. I was focused. I focused on what I needed to do and it worked.

“Tomorrow I could turn 80. who knows tomorrow?”

Let the gunfight begin.

https://nypost.com/2022/05/20/will-zalatoris-carries-pga-championship-lead-into-weekend/ Will Zatoris leads the PGA Championship into the weekend

JOE HERNANDEZ

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