While the winds at Southern Hills Country Club gusted upwards of 30 miles per hour in the morning, the afternoon wave of players faced a modest Oklahoma breeze and took full advantage on Friday at the 104th PGA Championship. Among all players currently inside the top 10, only two came from the morning tee time split.
Will Zalatoris capitalized on the calm afternoon conditions, recording four birdies in his final eight holes en route to a 5-under round of 65. Zalatoris, 25, is still in search of his first PGA Tour win but has been in contention on several occasions in recent major championships. The Wake Forest product already has four top-10s through his first seven major appearances, including back-to-back runner-up finishes at the Masters.
Zalatoris is known for being one of the premier ball-strikers on Tour, but the putter has actually been his greatest asset through 36 holes. The reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year is 18 for 18 on putts inside of 10 feet this week and leads the field in Strokes Gained: Putting. In his opening round on Thursday, Zalatoris also made a career-best 150 feet, four inches worth of putts.
Prior to the event, Zalatoris reportedly made an adjustment to his putting in order to limit excess upper-body tilt. Seems to be working well so far.
In the previous seven majors held at Southern Hills, each of the eventual winners held at least a share of the lead through 36 holes. Zalatoris has history on his side but doesn’t have any room for error heading into the weekend.
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