Halfway Hut at the Sanderson Farms Championship: Will Zalatoris shares lead after scintillating 61

A round-up of the best stats, quotes and social after 36 holes in Mississippi where the American is in a three-way tie at the top on 13-under-par.

The ripple effect of the USA's Ryder Cup demolition of Europe at Whistling Straits didn't take long.

"I would be lying if I said I don't have a little fire in my belly after missing out and watching guys that I grew up with playing as a part of Team USA," said Will Zalatoris after the second round of the Sanderson Farms Championship.

That inner fire certainly provided fuel on Friday as the 25-year-old American blasted a stunning 11-under-par 61 to vault 49 places up the leaderboard to tied 1st.

He shares the lead on 13-under with Nick Watney and Sahith Theegala.

Cameron Young and Hayden Buckley, both a shot back, make it an all-American top five.

Zalatoris started with a pair of birdies and never really stopped. He raced to the turn in 31 and came home in just 30 blows after five par breakers in his final seven holes.

At one point last season, it seemed as if Zalatoris could make Steve Stricker's Ryder Cup team.

A brilliant second place in The Masters was followed by a top eight in the PGA Championship but he pulled out of the Open Championship with a bad back and slipped down the pecking order after a somewhat flat summer.

He eventually finished 22nd in the Ryder Cup standings.

But the PGA Tour rookie of the year wasn't going to be quiet for long and at the Country Club of Jackson on Friday he shaved three shots off his previous low round at this level.

Next task: to secure his first PGA Tour win on what is his 35th start.

The omens are certainly strong given that this event has produced a first-time winner in six of the last seven seasons.

The exception on that list is defending champion Sergio Garcia.

However, the Spaniard won't get the chance to win the event again this year. A pair of 70s meant he missed the cut by a shot.

A Ryder Cup hangover? Maybe, but three more of the beaten European team certainly haven't shown that over in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

After two rounds in Scotland, Tyrrell Hatton was leading while Tommy Fleetwood and Shane Lowry were also in the top seven.

Here are the best stats, quotes and social from the Country Club of Jackson after 36 holes.

Click here for the leaderboard

Stats and facts

This is Zalatoris' first lead/co-lead after any round on the PGA Tour.

Zalatoris has 15 birdies in his first 36 holes. That's T1 alongside Young and Buckley.

Zalatoris leads the field in Strokes Gained: Putting (6.151).

This is Watney's sixth lead/co-lead after 36 holes on the PGA Tour but first since 2012. He converted that one (The Northern Trust) but was unsuccessful at the other five.

Before this week, Theegala's highest leaderboard position after any round was 8th.


Here's what some of the leading players said after Friday's play...

Will Zalatoris (-13, 61)

"My goal for this year is to win a golf tournament and I've done a really good job of that today. Just everything that I've worked on over the past really six, seven weeks, it really clicked.

"A lot better wedge game, a lot better speed control with the putter and I drove it a lot better today. Driving and then I've got the distance but when I hit fairways is when I shoot low rounds. So everything kind of came together today.

"I've been a great lag putter, but at the same time I left a lot of 20-footers short last year. So we fixed that. Today is a perfect example. I made a couple 20-footers that would have gone four, five feet by, which before I maybe would have kind of cosied them up there."

Nick Watney (-13, 66)

"I was just informed I only hit two fairways. It didn't seem that stressful. That sounds really stressful, but it wasn't that stressful. For the most part I kept it in the right spot on the greens and I made a few kind of bonus putts that you might not expect to make. So those are always fun.

"I feel like I'm really building now. I'm really kind of hungry to play and to be nervous. Last year there were some low times that kind of, I asked myself some really tough questions. You know, do I want to keep playing, do I enjoy this? And I really do."

Sahith Theegala (-13, 67)

"I played really well today. I hit the ball pretty much where I was looking almost all day and I had so many opportunities kind of go by on that back nine there, so to finally see one go in (on 18) was really cool.

"I've been playing well for quite a while now. Things just started clicking."

Cameron Young (-12, 65)

"I think it was good scrambling. I putted really nicely. I didn't drive it like I did yesterday. I drove it beautifully yesterday and today I was all over the place. But I think from there I managed it pretty well. And putted really well."

Hayden Buckley (-12, 65)

"I mean pretty much as good as we could imagine. I think our only bogey of the day was a 3-putt from inside of 20 feet on a pretty good shot we hit on a par-3 early."


Zalatoris zooms into the lead, Watney's wedge, Wolf howls, in for Im and Sergio's near miss

Zalatoris on a birdie blitz

Watney's wedge game working well

Wolf drains a bomb to make the cut

Sungjae chips in

So close for Sergio

READ MORE: Will Zalatoris quest for first PGA Tour win heads to Sanderson Farms Championship

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