Justin Thomas Seeks His Second P.G.A. Championship Victory

TULSA, Okla. — A lot of the late second-round drama on Friday on the 2022 P.G.A. Championship concerned Tiger Woods’s determined quest to stay within the event. In the long run, a limping Woods rallied to make the occasion’s midway lower by taking pictures a one-under-par 69 that left him tied for 53rd.

However the overriding theme of the day was a surging youth motion that took management of the leaderboard. Will Zalatoris, 25, who has a high 10 end in 4 of the final 5 majors he has entered, led the cost with a second spherical 65 that moved him to nine-under for the occasion. Mito Pereira, 27, shot 64 on Friday and trailed Zalatoris by one stroke.

General, there have been eight golfers below 30 within the high 10 on the event’s midway mark.

The primary of that crew to take the event lead was Justin Thomas, 29. With a father and a grandfather who had been golf instructors, Thomas has the genes for excellence within the sport. He rose to be a high junior participant, appeared in a PGA Tour occasion whereas in highschool and was named the nation’s high faculty golfer quickly afterward.

By 2017, when Thomas was 24, he received his first main golf title, the P.G.A. Championship. Nobody would have blamed the Thomas household for investing in a mammoth trophy case to accommodate all the highest prizes to come back.

But whereas Thomas has received his share of tour occasions, 5 years later he has not added to his assortment of main championships, one thing he has referred to as an underachievement. “I’ve not even near carried out effectively in my total profession in majors,” he mentioned final month.

Battling gusting, swirling winds on the Southern Hills Nation Membership, Thomas blended endurance and aggression to shoot his second consecutive three-under-par 67, which moved him into third place at day’s finish.

Thomas has contended on the midway mark of different main tournaments since 2017 and did not win, however he feels buoyed by a brand new mind-set this season, which has been aided by a brand new, skilled hand at his facet in Jim Mackay, who spent 25 years as Phil Mickelson’s caddie.

“It’s nonetheless golf, so it’s fairly laborious generally,” Thomas mentioned after his spherical on Friday. “However I’m very, very happy with the place every thing is at and the state of mind and the way of thinking that I’m in.”

He added: “We’re midway by this event, so it’s nonetheless a great distance from house.”

Mackay had often caddied for Thomas in earlier seasons after separating from Mickelson 5 years in the past. Eight months in the past, Thomas requested Mackay, whose nickname is Bones, to take the job full time.

“Bones is without doubt one of the hardest employees I’ve ever seen,” Thomas mentioned. “He by no means desires to be underprepared. He desires to verify he does every thing he can in order that he makes it really feel like we’ve got the most effective likelihood we will to win. And that’s very comforting as a participant, as a result of I’ve all the religion on this planet in my caddie.”

Thomas started his spherical on Friday on the tenth tee and had two birdies and a bogey in his opening 9 to make the flip at 4 below par for the event. With spectacular size off the tee — he averaged 312.2 yards in driving distance Friday — he was capable of par the difficult first two par-4 holes, which each measured greater than 480 yards lengthy. Two extra pars adopted on the third and fourth holes, and on the par-5 fifth gap, he sank a 24-foot birdie putt. After three routine pars, Thomas smashed a pinpoint drive on his ultimate gap, and his strategy shot from 92 yards to the uphill, plateaued ninth inexperienced stopped 9 ft from the pin. Thomas then calmly rolled in his final birdie putt.

“I’m simply feeling very comfy standing over the ball, which is an efficient feeling,” Thomas mentioned. “The way in which I performed the final gap, I couldn’t have actually drawn it up any higher. Leaving that hole wedge from the golf green slightly below the opening there and making that putt proper within the center. That was a pleasant strategy to finish it.”

Zalatoris, who was tied for sixth on the Masters final month and was the Masters runner-up a yr in the past, had 5 birdies with no bogey on Friday. Pereira had seven birdies with one bogey. Bubba Watson, who was the elder close to the highest of the leaderboard at 43, shot 63 within the second spherical and was in fourth place. Rory McIlroy, 33, shot 71 Friday and is tied for fifth general with Davis Riley and Abraham Ancer.

Woods was 4 over par after the primary spherical and performed his opening 9 holes on Friday in even par with a birdie on the fifth gap and a sloppy bogey on the eighth.

After sinking a 10-foot birdie putt on the tenth gap, Woods dropped to a few below for the event. He then made what seemed to be a devastating mistake on the par 3 eleventh gap when his tee shot landed left of the inexperienced and a fragile flop shot sailed over the inexperienced and trickled right into a bunker. That blunder led to a double bogey, which pushed Woods to 5 over par — and outdoors the lower line.

However Woods discovered the resolve for a spirited comeback. He rolled in an eight-foot birdie putt on the par 5 thirteenth gap and made one other birdie putt from 4 ft after a spectacular strategy shot from 209 yards on the par 4 sixteenth gap. He concluded his spherical with pars on the closing two holes.

Afterward, Woods, who’s three over par for the event, mentioned he was simply blissful “to play golf once more.” He added: “You’ll be able to’t win the event for those who miss the lower. I’ve received tournaments — not main championships — however I’ve received tournaments on the lower quantity. There’s a motive why you struggle laborious and also you’re capable of give your self an opportunity on the weekend. You simply by no means know if you may get scorching.”

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