Will Zalatoris
Photo: Golf Monthly

Will Zalatoris is in the driver’s seat at the 104th PGA Championship at the halfway stage due to the fact that the playbook has been modified somewhat.

As was to be anticipated, he is doing quite well. Putts are also being made by him. Let’s see whether it makes a difference in the equation come Sunday and whether or not it all adds up to a victory.

With a score of 65 that was bogey-free and five strokes under par Zalatoris, a rail-thin Texan who is 25 years old, grabbed a one-stroke lead over Mito Pereira, who is from Chile, on Friday at Southern Hills Country Club. Both players are at nine-under 131.

Given how much he enjoys the difficulty presented by major championship golf, it should not come as a surprise that he is in the running. What is astonishing is the speed with which he has climbed to the top thus far.

“I’ve got a long 36 holes ahead of me,’’ Zalatoris said.

“We lucked out with the draw for sure,’’ he said. “I played the last eight holes with not much wind, but you take it when you can get it.’’

Will Zalatoris did not hit a lot of putts that were a significant distance from the hole after working on his swing with instructor Josh Gregory after his early departure from the Nelson. His five birdies didn’t even cover a distance of 29 feet.

“Something Scottie Scheffler said the other day I think resonates a lot, where what made him become a major champion,’’ Zalatoris said. He takes his inspiration from Scottie Scheffler.

“He said that it was belief. I think that’s kind of the same attitude that any of us have out here to win, whether it’s a regular event, a Korn Ferry event, or a major. Maybe it’s a fake-it-till-you-make-it attitude, I don’t know. But 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.’’

However, he was successful with every putt he needed to make in order to preserve his record unblemished and his nose in front of the pack. And he is the first to confess that he was fortunate, not just in the draw but also in his ability to execute, as Will Zalatoris turned missed shots into birdies. Comparable to the first and the seventeenth. Theft in its purest form.

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