Tulsa, Okla. – Phil Mickelson, the present PGA Championship winner, was not at Southern Hills Nation Membership this week to defend his title. Scotty Scheffler, the world No. 1 participant who received the Masters a month in the past, will not be round over the weekend.

However there’ll nonetheless be loads of intrigue this weekend, as two of the game’s greatest stars, Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy, attempt to finish a protracted drought with out profitable a serious championship.

They’ll chase Will Zalatoris and Mito Pereira, who’ve by no means even received a PGA Tour occasion, not to mention the Main. Neither are Abraham Anser, Davis Riley and Matt Fitzpatrick, who’re inside hanging distance after 36 holes.

“One thing Scotty Scheffler mentioned the opposite day I feel resonated rather a lot, the place he grew to become a serious champion, he mentioned it was confidence,” mentioned Zalatoris, who’s 9 years youthful and after Friday’s second. Perera has a 1-shot lead. Spherical. “I feel it is the sort of perspective that any of us have right here to win, whether or not it is a common occasion, a corn ferry occasion, or a serious. Perhaps it is a fake-unless- You’ve gotten the attitude-making, I do not know.”

Listed below are 5 gamers to look at for the 104th PGA Championship this weekend:

Will Zalatoris

The previous Wake Forest star has but to win on the PGA Tour and claimed only one win on the Korn Ferry Tour. However with a few of the finest ball-striking prowess on the planet, it is solely a matter of time earlier than he wins on tour—and a serious one.

Zalatoris would go on to turn out to be the primary since Martin Kemmer in 2010 and solely the fifth participant within the final 50 years to attain his first Tour win on the PGA Championship – Jeff Sluman (1988), John Daly (1991) and Sean Mitchell (2003) others Had been.

There was little question that Zalatoris may hit a ball straight – and in any approach he needed. The priority was what occurred after the ball hit the inexperienced. He got here in 185th on the tour within the pictures he obtained this week: put. Someway, he is ranked first in that class this week, getting 3.090 on the sector. He was an ideal 18-for-18 on Friday with a put inside 10 toes.

The excellent news for Zalatoris is that every of Southern Hills’ earlier seven main winners both led or co-led after 36 holes.

“I’ve 36 holes forward of me,” mentioned Zalatoris. “I feel if something, you are in a position to make your approach round this golf course. In case you hit as many greens as potential, it is laborious to mess up. You continue to can. You possibly can.” You recognize, for those who transfer on the incorrect slopes there’s nonetheless somewhat little bit of perspective, like, Augusta, the place you may hit 18 greens and stroll by way of that spot and shoot 80.

“I will exit and do my job. Hopefully, that is sufficient in the long run.”

mito pereira

Rising up in Chile, Pereira took up golf after watching his father play over the weekend. On the age of 15, he stop taking part in and didn’t select his golf equipment for 2 years.

Now, a dozen years later, he is headed to the PGA Championship. In line with analysis by ESPN Stats & Data, he’s the primary Chilean golfer since 1983 to complete within the high two of a serious spherical. The 27-year-old is simply taking part in in his second main. He hasn’t received the tour. He’s ranked one hundredth on this planet.

“I took two years off, however once I got here again I knew I may do it,” Pereira mentioned. “I knew I may get right here, and I simply saved up the boldness. Clearly, there have been ups and downs, but it surely was actually a pleasure to be right here.”

Pereira performed one season at Texas Tech in 2014–15 earlier than turning skilled. He completed 129th on the Korn Ferry Tour and did not cross Q-Faculty in 2018. When he returned to Chile, he fell off his bike and broke his collarbone.

Pereira is satisfied that each one these setbacks helped him get right here.

“It wasn’t an excellent 12 months,” he mentioned. “However since then I have been build up and going up. Bought some expertise of every little thing – good days, dangerous days, dangerous golf, actually dangerous golf, good golf. However I feel every little thing made me keep right here.” And helped me play like I am taking part in now.”

Bubba Watson

After profitable the Masters in 2012 and 2014 and ending fifth on the Augusta Nationwide in 2018, Watson hasn’t had an ideal monitor document within the majors (not that profitable two inexperienced jackets is so dangerous).

However since shedding within the playoffs on the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits and ending second solely to Kemar, Watson has not made it to the top-10 in any main apart from the Masters. Watson, 43, had not been within the high 50 of the PGA Championship since 2015.

However there Bubba was capturing only a third 63 in a Main in Southern Hills on Friday, becoming a member of Tiger Woods (2007 PGA) and Raymond Floyd (1982 PGA), who each went on to win the match.

“It is an honor to attain 63 runs on any golf course,” Watson mentioned. “I imply, I am going to take it. However I am going to need to look forward [Saturday] And look the place I’m.”

A couple of weeks in the past, Watson gave up on the motive force shaft he is been utilizing since 2002, which is 30 grams lighter. He is hitting the ball too far and straight off the tee. He ranks first within the subject in strokes obtained: tee to inexperienced and averages 318.1 yards on drives.

On the thirteenth gap on Friday, when Watson had not missed a fairway, he informed his caddy, Gabe Sawyer, that he was intentionally going to hit his tee shot into the tough.

“I needed to get it out of my thoughts,” Watson mentioned. “I hadn’t left a fairway but, and I did not wish to go to 17 or 18 to have an opportunity to hit each fairway.”

Watson nonetheless made a par-5 birdie in thirteenth and hit 13 of the 14 fairways within the spherical.

Davis Riley

The previous Alabama star is fifth after consecutive rounds of 2-under 68. He’s 5 pictures behind Zalatoris.

Riley from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, got here to the PGA Championship on a superb heater, her second main. He had three straight top-10 finishes – a tie for fourth on the Zurich Traditional (together with teammate Zalatoris), a singles fifth on the Mexico Open and a tie for ninth ultimately week’s AT&T Byron Nelson.

In March, Riley completed second within the Valspar Championship, shedding in a playoff to Sam Burns. Since lacking the lower at RBC Heritage in mid-April, Riley has shot in his 60s in 9 of his final 10 rounds in stroke-play occasions. He’s a high candidate for the PGA Tour Rookie of the 12 months.

“I knew from the start of the 12 months I used to be taking part in some good golf and I used to be attempting to be affected person,” Riley mentioned. “It was cool. I knew I may do it sooner or later, however ultimately it turned out to be a hit and with the possibility to win golf tournaments like I did at Valspar, I felt like I actually turned a web page there.” Have given.”

Matt Kucharo

Final season was a forgettable one for Kutcher. He had just one spot within the top-10 at first of the 25 Tour, lacking out on making the lower in 5 of his final six of the 12 months. Additionally, he went 0-for-6 within the Majors (which included the 2020 US Open and Masters which had been postponed because of COVID-19).

Kutcher, 43, has been a lot better this season. He has six finishes within the top-25 in 14 begins, together with a tie for second on the Valero Texas Open and a tie for third at RBC Heritage.

He carded a 3-under 67 within the first spherical at Southern Hills, then carded a 1-over 71.

Kutcher attributes his transformation to having the ability to spend extra time with swing coach Chris O’Connell.

“I am beginning to acquire some management over the golf ball once more, so I can guess somewhat bit about what is going on to occur,” Kutcher mentioned. “I struggled there for some time. I did not actually know whether or not the ball was going left or proper, and now I really feel higher which approach the ball goes. I really feel like I will get some kind of consequence I can level it in the proper course and that is wonderful.

“I have been in a position to spend somewhat extra time with Chris O’Connell as we proceed to ease by way of this COVID factor. I’ve obtained to spend some extra time with him, and I’ve all the time felt just like the extra I Time go by with him, as finest I do.”

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