Golf: Zalatoris kicks into Major mode at PGA Championship

American golfer Will Zalatoris during the 2022 PGA Championship golf tournament in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on May 20, 2022. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

TULSA (REUTERS) - Will Zalatoris may not yet have a win on the PGA Tour but he knows something about contending in Majors and was at it again on Friday (May 20) as he held a one-shot lead after the second round of the PGA Championship.

He fired a five-under 65 that was one of only two bogey-free rounds on the day at windy Southern Hills Country Club and brought him to nine-under 131 on the week, good for a one-shot lead over Chilean Mito Pereira (64).

For Zalatoris, who was runner-up at the 2021 Masters and has top-10 finishes at both the US Open and PGA Championship on his resume, there is something about golf's biggest events that brings out the best in him.

"I've kind of had an attitude with the Majors, especially since the Masters, where I wanted to enjoy the experience as much as I could," said Zalatoris, the reigning PGA Tour rookie of the year.

"I don't want to leave anything - looking back from 20 years from now I don't want to regret my attitude or anything like that.

"So I just make sure that after really every single shot I hit, it's just - I don't want to say life or death, but make sure I'm fully committed to everything that I do because we only get four of them a year."

Zalatoris, who missed the cut in a tune-up event last week, wielded a red-hot putter during Friday's second round as he was 18-for-18 from inside 10 feet on the greens and leads the field in shots gained putting.

But even though each winner of the seven Majors held at the Southern Hills course in Tulsa, Oklahoma, had at least a share of the 36-hole lead, Zalatoris is not getting ahead of himself.

"I've got a long 36 holes ahead of me," he said. "History to me, it is what it is, but I'm going to go out and do my job, and hopefully it's enough at the end."

When he was asked about the confidence he exudes at Major tournaments despite not having won on the PGA Tour, the 25-year-old American did not shy away.

"Maybe it's a fake-it-till-you-make-it attitude, I don't know," said Zalatoris. "But like I said, I think there's a little bit of the aspect that they're just such golf courses, it allows my ball-striking to do the talking."

Reigning Masters champion Scottie Scheffler and twice Major winner Dustin Johnson headlined the list of big names players who failed to make the cut.

World No. 1 and tournament favourite Scheffler capped his second round with a double-bogey for a five-over 75 that left him two shots outside the four-over cutline and in a share of 89th place with Johnson (73).

World No. 5 Patrick Cantlay also missed the cut after a dismal start to the year's second Major, as he managed just two birdies over two rounds and was 11 over for the week.

Among the other notables heading home early are former Masters champion Sergio Garcia (74) and 2023 Ryder Cup captains Henrik Stenson (73) and Zach Johnson (77).

Among those making it right on the number were twice Major champion and world No. 3 Collin Morikawa (72) , 2021 Masters winner Hideki Matsuyama (72) and former British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen (71).

Also making the cut was Aaron Wise, despite being struck in the head by a tee shot from Australia's Cameron Smith.

Smith's drive at the second hole sliced badly to the right and hit Wise on the adjacent seventh fairway.

"I was walking down No. 7, surprised my ball was in the fairway, and then next thing you know, I mean there's a little bit of ringing in my head," Wise said, according to ESPN.

He said he was down for "maybe 20 seconds" before being able to recover and finish his round.

"Thankfully, he's fine," said Joel Dahmen, one of Wise's playing partners. "It was a glancing blow, but the ball took off another 40 or 50 yards down the fairway. It ended up in the rough. You could hear it. All the spectators heard it. It was loud."

Wise finished off his round at two-over 72 to make the cut at one over. He had three holes to go when the incident occurred because he began his round on the back nine, and wrapped up par-par-bogey.

"You know, obviously, there's a lot of adrenaline in the body after something like that happens," Wise said. "I was just trying to calm myself down and get back to being somewhat normal for the last few holes."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.