History was firmly on the side of Will Zalatoris as he looked to convert his halfway lead into a first major title in the US PGA Championship.
Zalatoris made the most of being on the right side of the draw to card a bogey-free second round of 65 for a halfway total of nine under par, one shot ahead of Chile’s Mito Pereira.
And the 25-year-old American, who is yet to win on the PGA Tour, was made aware in his post-round press conference that the winner of each of the previous seven majors at Southern Hills had led or shared the lead after 36 holes.
“I think 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,” said Zalatoris, who was runner-up in the 2021 Masters and had recorded four top-10 finishes in his seven major appearances before this week.
“I’ve got a long 36 holes ahead of me. You’re able to plot your way around this golf course and if you hit as many greens as you possibly can, it’s kind of hard to mess it up.
“(But) you still can. If you get on the wrong slopes it still has a little bit of the attitude of like Augusta, where you can hit 18 greens and walk off that place and shoot 80.”
Former world number one Justin Thomas was three shots off the pace on six under, with two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson another stroke back after equalling the championship record with a superb 63.
Rory McIlroy could only add a 71 to his opening 65 to fall five shots off the pace.
Round of the day
Will Zalatoris carded a flawless 65 to lead by one from Mito Pereira, who shot 64, but it was Bubba Watson who produced the lowest score with a 63.
Shot of the day
Zalatoris was fortunate to avoid the creek on the 17th and looked to be blocked out by the trees, but produced a brilliant approach to set up his fifth and final birdie of the day.
Statistic of the day
Some good news for Zalatoris fans from golf statistician Justin Ray.
Tweet of the day
Ray reacts to Woods making the cut despite all the injuries he has suffered in his career, most recently to his right leg in an horrific car accident in February last year.
Key tee times (all BST)
1430 Shaun Norris, Tiger Woods
1930 Rory McIlroy, Abraham Ancer
1940 Justin Thomas, Bubba Watson
1950 Will Zalatoris, Mito Pereira
Showers and isolated thunderstorms will be likely on Saturday as a front slowly works southward. Showers should taper off by mid to late afternoon with northerly winds increasing to 15-20mph, gusting to 30mph. Temperatures will be much cooler with morning highs in the mid 60s and dropping into the 50s for the afternoon.
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