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Zalatoris charges into PGA lead, McIlroy five shots back and Woods shoots 69

It’s day two at Southern Hills.

Will Zalatoris.
Will Zalatoris.
Image: Eric Gay

Updated May 21st 2022, 12:20 AM

AMERICAN WILL ZALATROIS reeled off three consecutive back-nine birdies to seize the lead ahead of Chile’s Mito Pereira in Friday’s second round of the PGA Championship.

World number 30 Zalatoris, last year’s Masters runner-up and the 2021 US PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, fired a second round of 65 to stand at nine-under. He is one shot ahead of Pereira, in only his second major start, who made seven birdies in his round at Southern Hills.

US clubhouse leader Justin Thomas, the 2017 PGA Championship winner fired a second consecutive three-under par 67 to stand on six-under 134 for 36 holes, one shot ahead of Bubba Watson who hit a superb seven-under 63.

Rory McIlroy endured a challenging day but battled well for a 71, he is on four-under and five shots off the lead held by Zalatoris.

The four-time Major champion played alongside Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth as part of a marquee trio, with Woods shooting one-under 69 to lie three-over for the tournament.

Seamus Power is level par for the tournament after his one-under 69 today, while Shane Lowry is two shots further back after today’s 72, which featured a difficult back nine. Padraig Harrington hit 75 to stand at 12-over and he will miss the cut.

 

Zalatoris, with four top-10 finishes in seven major starts and a 66 on Thursday, dropped his approach at the first hole inches from the cup and tapped in for birdie, then made nine pars in a row before the birdie run that put him in the lead.

The 25-year-old American put his tee shot to five feet at the par-3 11th and made the birdie putt, then left his approach at the par-4 12th just outside seven feet from the cup and made that birdie putt.

He followed with a seven-foot birdie putt at the par-5 13th to complete his run and sit atop the leaderboard, with another birdie following at the 17th.

Pereira, a back-nine starter who shot 68 on Thursday, began with back-to-back birdies, took a bogey at 12 but answered with a birdie at 16 — his longest birdie putt at just inside 22 feet — then birdied the second, fourth, par-5 fifth and seventh holes.

Woods, the 15-time major winner in his second comeback event from severe leg injuries, fired a 74 on Thursday and stood on five-over for the tournament after 12 holes, before finishing with birdies on the 13th and 16th.

A huge crowd watched him play alongside McIlroy, who led after 18 holes with an opening 65, and Spieth, trying to complete a career Grand Slam.

Woods made a five-foot birdie putt at the par-5 fifth and a bogey at the par-3 eighth, then began the back nine with a 10-foot birdie putt.

But Woods had a double-bogey disaster at the par-3 11th, going over the green into rough, then into a greenside bunker, then blasting out to eight feet and missing his bogey putt.

The 46-year-old star responded at the par-5 13th by sinking an eight-foot birdie putt to lift himself back onto the cut line, two following pars letting the drama build.

Ninth-ranked Thomas, the 2017 PGA champion, sank a nine-foot birdie putt on the ninth hole, his last of the day, to take the clubhouse lead.

“Very pleased,” Thomas said. “I played really well today. The conditions were obviously very difficult. I stayed very patient, tried to get in my own little world and get in a zone and just tried to execute each shot the best I could.

“I felt we did a great job of that and I’m glad to have a good round to show for it.”

Thomas matched his best 36-hole major start from the 2018 PGA.

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- Scheffler over cut line -

The world’s three top-ranked golfers were grouped in a major for the first time since the 2013 US Open but all were over par overall.

Spain’s second-ranked Jon Rahm, the reigning US Open champion from Spain who could return to number one with a victory, shot 69 to stand on 142.

“Today I can’t ask much more of myself,” Rahm said. “It was a good day. It was good golf. Just tough. And I played really good to show one-under.”

Third-ranked American Collin Morikawa, the reigning British Open champion, fired his second 72 to stand on 144.

Top-ranked Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, who has won four of his past eight starts, fired a 75 to stand on 146 with two-time major winner Dustin Johnson.

Others at risk of missing the weekend include past Masters winners Adam Scott of Australia and Sergio Garcia of Spain.

– © AFP 2022

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