Will Zalatoris leads US PGA Championship while Tiger Woods battles back to make cut

American holds one-stroke lead going into Saturday's third round at Southern Hills

Will Zalatoris fired a bogey-free five-under 65 in the second round of the PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club on Friday, May 20, 2022. AFP
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American Will Zalatoris fired a bogey-free five-under-par 65 to lead the PGA Championship while Tiger Woods battled back to make the cut after Friday's second round.

Zalatoris, last year's Masters runner-up and the 2021 US PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, secured a one-stroke lead over Chile's Mito Pereira going into the weekend action.

“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.

“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.”

Woods shot a second-round one-under 69 that put him at three-over par for the tournament, one shot inside the cut line. He was in danger of missing the weekend before rallying with two birdies over the final six holes.

“You can’t win the tournament if you miss the cut. I’ve won tournaments – not major championships, but I’ve won tournaments on the cut number,” said Woods, who nearly lost a leg after a car crash 15 months ago. “There’s a reason why you fight hard and you’re able to give yourself a chance on the weekend.

“Just the fact that I’m able to play golf again and play in our biggest championships.

“I’m not going to be playing a lot of tournaments going forward. They’re going to be the biggest tournaments. I want to be able to play the major championships. I’ve always loved playing them.”

Rory McIlroy, who could only add a 71 to his opening 65 to fall five shots off the pace, was full of praise for playing partner Woods.

“Just incredibly resilient and mentally tough,” said the Northern Irishman, who chatted with Woods often during Friday's round. “He’s feeling it, and he’s feeling it on every swing … Yeah, look, he’s the ultimate pro.

“Looking at him yesterday, if that would have been me, I would have been considering pulling out and just going home. But Tiger is different and he’s proved he’s different. It was just a monumental effort.”

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy during the second round at Southern Hills. AFP

Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson matched the course record with a seven-under-par 63 at Southern Hills.

With nine birdies, the most in any major round of Watson's career, the 43-year-old US left-hander equalled the 18-hole mark set by Ray Flord and matched by Tiger Woods during his run to the 2007 PGA title.

“I'm definitely not going to think about it,” Watson said of the historic round. “Because tomorrow whoever I'm playing with is going to be trying to attack the course.

“I could shoot 80-80 and I could care less what I did on Friday.”

Watson missed a 23-foot birdie putt at the 18th hole that would have matched him with the all-time lowest round in major golf history, the 62 fired by South African Branden Grace in the third round of the 2017 British Open at Royal Birkdale.

“It's about trusting yourself,” Watson said. “If you don't trust yourself out there, it doesn't matter if you have the perfect yardage, the perfect club.

Bubba Watson matched the course record with a seven-under-par 63. AP

“If you don't feel like you can hit a shot or you're second-guessing that shot, then it doesn't matter what golf course it is. It doesn't matter if it's at home with your buddies. You're just trying to trust yourself.

“I trusted it. I was focused on what I had to do, and it worked out.”

Scottie Scheffler arrived at Southern Hills with a green jacket hanging in his wardrobe, the No 1 ranking beside his name and the rest of the field pointing to him as the favourite to win the PGA Championship.

The Masters champ was heading home on Friday, though, after shooting 75, finishing at six over and missing the cut.

Two-time major winner Dustin Johnson shot a second consecutive 73 and also missed the cut. Former Masters champion Adam Scott never recovered from an opening 77 and went home early.

So did reigning PGA Tour player of the year Patrick Cantlay, who rarely found a fairway off the tee and followed his opening 76 with a similarly dismal 75.

World No 1 Scottie Scheffler missed the cut at Southern Hills. AP
Updated: May 21, 2022, 4:38 AM