Will Zalatoris has four top 10 finishes from seven big starts
|-9 In Zalatoris (USA); -8th M Pereira (Chi); -6 J Thomas (USA); -5 B.Watson (USA); -4 R McIlroy (NI), A Ancer (Mex)|
|Selected others: -3 M Fitzpatrick (Eng); -2 T Hatton (Eng), C Smith (Aus); +1 R MacIntyre (Sco), T Fleetwood (Eng), J Rose (Eng); +3 T Woods (USA);|
|Missed cut:+6 S Scheffler (USA), D Johnson (USA)|
American Will Zatoris takes a one-shot lead in the US PGA Championship after overnight leader Rory McIlroy fell back on day two.
McIlroy started day one with a lead from the field but the Northern Irishman finished it five behind Zatoris, who reached nine-under in Southern Hills.
He carded a five-under-65 with no bogey with conditions that favored the late wave in Oklahoma, though McIlroy shot 71.
Chile’s Mito Pereira is second in his second major start, eight under.
Australia’s Cameron Smith, who won the Players Championship in March, hit fellow player Aaron Wise in the head with an erratic drive.
Wise, playing “Approx. 20 seconds” had to be treated, but was able to finish his lap, albeit with a “slightly sore head”.
“I went down seven and next thing my head rang a little bit,” Wise said.
His playing partner Joel Dahmen added: “It was a fleeing shot but the ball went 40 or 50 yards further down the fairway. He ended up in the rough. You could hear it. All viewers heard it. It was loud. “
Scoring mattered on a blustery morning in Tulsa, but world no.
However, former world number one Dustin Johnson and current owner and Masters Champion Scottie Scheffler missed the cut after both fell to six over par – Scheffler after losing two shots on his last hole.
Spaniard Jon Rahm heads into the weekend with two over par after a one-under-69, as does reigning Open champion Collin Morikawa, who weathered a difficult morning and faced a nervous wait after batting at four over, where the half cut was made with the top 70 and ties playing the last two rounds.
Among the late starters who benefited from the easing wind was Bubba Watson, who missed a putt on the final putt, becoming the second player to score 62 in a major after Branden Grace at the 2017 Open. However, his dazzling 63, including nine birdies and two bogeys, leaves him short on five.
“It was nice but I wish it was on Sunday to take the lead, win from scratch or finish in the top five – but I’ll do it any day of the week,” said the 43-year-old second division. Times Masters Champion.
Tiger Woods, who appeared to be in pain at the end of his opening round as he continued his comeback from a career-threatening car accident that left him unable to walk for three months, fought hard and pushed his way into the cut 71 after a three-pointer.
“You can’t win the tournament if you miss the cut,” said the 15-time major winner. “I’ve won tournaments, not major championships, but I’ve won tournaments with the cut number.
“There’s a reason you fight hard and can give yourself a chance at the weekend. You just never know when you might get hot.”
Thomas speeds up before Zatoris attacks
Justin Thomas won his only Major at the 2017 US PGA Championship
McIlroy’s recent majors have been marked by slow starts that put him out of contention, but the 33-year-old made the mark on day one in Tulsa.
Despite the best conditions, he started slowly on Friday. He had two costly bogeys on his front nine as those below started to find some momentum as the wind dropped. His only birdie came on the 12th when the four-time major champion finished with a one-over-71, leaving him four-under for the tournament.
“Overall a lot of guys went lower in the afternoon and I wish I was one of them but if that’s the worst out of the way I’m still in a good position,” McIlroy said.
“Those three par sayers were key for me to stay a little bit closer to the lead. Those par sats on 16, 17 and 18 were very important.”
Thomas started day two behind McIlroy and made up that deficit with two birdies in his first four holes after starting on the 10th in a safe round of the 2017 champion.
A bogey on the par-3 14th halted his momentum, but a par-eight run ensued and he confidently finished with a birdie on the long fifth hole before going into another on the last hole for his second 67 to place.
“I had a lot of fun, it brings out a good part of my game and I feel comfortable in it,” Thomas said of the conditions.
“I feel like I’m playing well. We’re halfway through so it’s a long way from home but I’m very happy with how everything is going and how I’m doing.”
Six under looked like it would be hard to beat for a long time, but when the wind died down there were points up for grabs and Zatoris and Pereira were among those to benefit.
Zlatoris already has four top 10 major finishes and he struggled to keep his flawless lap intact before breaking away from the field with three birdies after the turn, although Pereira, who started on the 10th, equalized could when he holed six birdies in his last nine holes.
Texan Zatoris lost a drive right on the 17th and appeared to have tangled his way to the green with tree branches, but the 25-year-old world No. 30 held an excellent approach to within two yards and potted the birdie putt to get back in to get a solo lead that he would stick with.
“When I got out of position, I missed the right spots,” said Zulatoris. “I made a few par saves from 1.80 to 2.40m that kept the round going – I was surprised when I looked at the scorecard that I didn’t have any bogeys there.”
Chilean Pereira missed the cut at the 2019 US Open in his only previous major start, but the 27-year-old will go into the final pairing on Saturday after an impressive six-under 64.
English couple in competition
England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick was one of the few to head in the right direction on Friday morning, going three under par for the tournament before throwing his first shot of the day on his 13th hole.
The 27-year-old, whose best major finish at the 2016 Masters was seventh, rallied with a birdie on the seventh – his 16th – and picked himself up with two pars to sign for a 69 and three-under.
“I feel like this is the best game I’ve played in my career so far this year,” he said.
“I’ve got a lot longer and it’s shown a lot in the first two days, the lads I’ve played with, the clubs I’ve been hitting holes – hopefully it’s a sign things are starting to work out for me change little.”
Compatriot Tyrrell Hatton carded four consecutive birdies on his way to a two-under-68, but ended his round with bogeys on 16 and 18.
He said putting was difficult on slower surfaces because the greens were not cut before the start of the second round due to the strong wind forecast.
“You know, they’re wiggling all over the place. It’s so hard to hole putts. So you can hit a great putt and they just don’t look like they’re going in, which is hard to accept when we’re playing in a big championship,” Hatton said.
Big names miss the cut
Two-time major champion Johnson signed for the second straight 73 and will head home despite two birdies.
Scheffler, fresh from his Masters triumph last month, is also facing an early exit after struggling with the Tulsa venue, also finishing the day with six overs.
He was in a marquee group with world number two Rahm and third-placed Morikawa, but Thursday’s 71 was followed by a five-to-75 on Friday that unraveled on his back nine.
Scheffler started in 10th and after carding nine pars in a row, he placed four bogeys on either side of a birdie on the course before hitting four shots from the back of the green in ninth place as he completed his final nine holes in the Five-Over played 40.
World number five Patrick Cantlay got off to a miserable start in two rounds with just two birdies as he bowed out with 11 overs in total.