Severe Oklahoma winds eased Friday afternoon, giving players a chance to make their mark at the 104th PGA Championships. Will Zalatoris was challenged because this year’s ruling PGA Tour rookie threw Dart over Dart in the Southern Hills and elevated his name to number one on the Leaderboard in the second major of the year.
Karting rounds 66-65, Zalatoris found himself under 9 and again played himself in a big match. The 25-year-old, who is still looking for his first career success, will do his job as the 25-year-old waits shallowly for the moment when he will slip, with many big names, great champions and brilliant players. Good news? The seven big winners in the Southern Hills are in the lead or co-lead after 36 holes, just like Jaladoris this year.
Among those who wanted to knock him down was Justin Thomas, who put together a morning performance in the second round. The winner of the 2017 PGA Championship wanted to lift the trophy for the first time in a year. Thomas’ game has been the best part for three months, and the same can be said for first-round captain Rory McIlroy. Unable to continue his opening game under the age of 5 at the age of 65, the 33-year-old now finds himself five feet ahead of Jaladoris, but not without a chance to capture the key title of his fifth career.
There is still plenty of work to be done, and that’s what we plan to do. Below is the Leaderboard resolution after the 2nd round.
1. Will Saladoris (-9): Peas and carrots. Peanut butter and jelly. Will Zalatoris and key championship conditions. The Wake Forest production was fantastic on golf’s biggest stage of his young career, boasting four to 10 results in seven starts. He seems to be good at adding to this total and doing it in a serious way. Zalatoris is always hitting the ball and well this week, Putter has also decided to cooperate. He has scored 18 runs for 18 wickets in 10 overs so far in this tournament. Weekends in majors are completely different animals, so if the veins penetrate, it will appear in the greens.
2. Mitto Pereira (-8): There are many similarities between Zalatoris and Pereira. Their statistics are very similar, and despite several close calls to name a couple, the two did not win the PGA Tour. The promotion of the Chilean wars from the Korn Ferry tour last summer and his PGA Championship debut was easily spotted. At the start of his second major championship, Pereira scored 64 runs under 6 and will have his last tea time with Jaladoris on Saturday.
3. Justin Thomas (-6): The first two days were enjoyable for Thomas, who carded nine birdies against three bogeys. In his second round he could get all the excitement for 67 runs. Stealing a stroke on the field with a bird in the rough bar 4, Thomas drove this late speed into one of the rounds on Friday morning. For the past half decade he has openly stated that he wants to add another big championship to his application and now he is working on himself until he reaches his second Skymaker Trophy.
4. Papa Watson (-5): The round of the championship belongs to the two-time Masters champion because Watson fired with the top nine birds in a key round on Friday afternoon. Watson, who signed for the Under-7s at 63, not only equaled the course record of Tiger Woods and Raymond Floyd, but most importantly brought himself back into the fray after a disappointing first round in 2 overs. Should we be surprised if Watson finds his name on the front page of a leaderboard, in a course that requires creativity and shot making?
T5. Rory McIlroy, Abraham Anser and Davis Riley (-4): McIlroy was at the best end of the weather draw, so his second round 1 over was very disappointing. However, the four-time Major Champion is still its thickness despite Friday’s troubles. He continued to drive the ball like a stallion, but the iron game and Putter dropped him without he being able to gain any momentum.
T8. Matt Fitzpatrick and Stewart Zinc (-3): During the 72nd over of the 2001 US Open, Zink humiliatedly missed a short bogey match to get out of the playoffs with Rediff Cousin and Mark Brooks. Now, 21 years later, the 49-year-old is hunting again in the Southern Hills and is a potential candidate to follow in the footsteps of Bill Mickelson a year ago.
T10. Cameron Smith, Sam Burns and five others (-2): This is probably the distance I go to find a potential winner because it is a team with plenty of firepower. Burns made strong progress on the leaderboard on Friday with the 3rd round, along with Cameron Young, who returned in identical rounds 71-67.
T30. Jordan Speed and 10 others (+1): No matter how dim the heartbeat, the Grand Slam dream is technically still alive. Speed looks back with disgust at his opening round because he couldn’t do anything with the greens. He fought bravely on Friday, but unless there was any disaster for the leaders, he would have to wait until next year’s PGA Championship for another chance to join the golf elite.
T53. Tiger Woods and 10 others (+3): The 46-year-old 15-time Major Champion is content to watch the late cut on Friday. Outside of Bar-3 11th, Woods was strong on his way to 69 under 1, and outperformed his playing rival, McIlroy. His body should be in pain, but I like to think he will make a better weekend effort compared to the 2022 Masters.
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