Zalatoris takes one-shot lead in hunt for first major title

Overnight leader Rory McIlroy began the day one shot ahead of the field but dropped back on day two and finished five behind Zalatoris.

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.

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“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.

Additional reporting from Reuters

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