Will Zalatoris did the math, and he was stumped. He’s one of the longest hitters on the PGA Tour, he was playing one of the shortest courses — and he shot one of the most average scores, a one-under 71 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday. “I was frustrated with my attitude yesterday,” he said. “I thought that I was trying to shoot a number on a golf course that I knew I could eat up with my distance, and shooting one-under, two birdies, was pretty disappointing. I hit bad drives on all the par-5s and I hit 10 greens yesterday on a 7,000-yard golf course, and with my distance, I mean, I never do that. So I knew that was a little bit of mental rust of making sure that I wasn’t short-sided and veering away from some flags that normally I would be taking on, and today just I had a lot of great numbers and I picked the line that Josh Gregory told me that I love — he said, if you want to shoot 64 you got to be willing to shoot 74 — and obviously I clipped it today.” Obviously. Here are three things you need to know after Friday’s second round of the American Express, played at La Quinta, the Pete Dye Stadium Course and the Nicklaus Tournament Course, in La Quinta, Calif.
Patrick Cantlay leads
Clipping it, too, was Patrick Cantlay. Again. Playing the Nicklaus Tournament Course, he carded six birdies and two bogeys for a four-under 68, a 14-under total and a one-shot lead over Tom Hoge, and a two-stroke advantage over five players.
During Thursday’s first round, he shot a 62, for a Tour record 20th-straight round in the 60s. On Friday, he added to his mark.
“I felt like it was really solid golf,’ Cantlay said. “I didn’t get the most out of it I possibly could, but another solid day, and two more of those I should be right there.”
Will Zalatoris is two shots back
Hoge, after a 66 on the Stadium Course, is one back, while Zalatoris, Lanto Griffin, Greyson Sigg, Cameron Young and Joseph Bramlett are two behind Cantlay.
Zalatoris, playing the Nicklaus Tournament Course, played the back nine (his starting nine) at four-under, then, starting on hole 3, birdied his way to the clubhouse. It was reminiscent of his run in the first half of last year, which included a second-place finish at the Masters, and not so much his play in the back half of 2021, which included two missed cuts in his final five events.
“Yeah, no, if anything it was just try to right the ship for the start of the year,” Zalatoris said. “The attitude that I had yesterday was a little bit of the attitude I carried over the last three months of the season, where I was really forcing things and trying to do things, when in reality the first six months of last year, I was just playing golf, and it added up to some great golf.”
Jon Rahm is six back
Among other players, world No. 1 Jon Rahm is six back after a 70 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course, Patrick Reed is 11 back after a 70 on the Nicklaus, Rickie Fowler is 14 back after a 71 on the Nicklaus, and Phil Mickelson is 21 back after a 73 on the Nicklaus.
Also, James Hart du Preez, at 6-foot-9, the tallest player ever to play a PGA Tour event, shot a two-over 74 at La Quinta and is 20 shots behind Cantlay.