Theegala and Zalatoris, rookies rule the roost in Jackson

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PGA Tour rookie Will Zalatoris will be taking heart from the stat that the Sanderson Farms Championship has produced a first-time winner six of the last seven seasons. Photo: greaterthanthegame.org
PGA Tour rookie Will Zalatoris will be taking heart from the stat that the Sanderson Farms Championship has produced a first-time winner six of the last seven seasons. Photo: greaterthanthegame.org

Will Zalatoris (T1/-13) tied the Sanderson Farms Championship 18-hole scoring a record at 11-under 61 (Keith Clearwater/R2/1996) at the Country Club of Jackson.

The 61 marks a career-low round on PGA Tour (previous/most recent: 64/R3/2021 Waste Management Phoenix Open). He holds first his lead/co-lead after any round on Tour.

 

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Prior to this week, his best 36-hole position on Tour was T2 at the 2021 Masters Tournament.

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Zalatoris has made 15 birdies through 36 holes, tied for the most in the field (Cameron Young and Hayden Buckley).

 

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He is seeking his first career Tour title in his 35th Tour start. Sanderson Farms Championship has produced a first-time winner six of the last seven seasons (Sergio Garcia/2020).

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In only previous start at the Sanderson Farms Championship, he missed the cut in 2020 (73-71—144). Zalatoris recorded eight top-10s and made 21 cuts in 25 starts last season.

Was named the 2021 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year as voted by the TOUR’s membership for the 2020-21 season.

Nick Watney (T1/-13) followed his first-round 65 with 6-under 66, including four birdies on the front and back. The 131 marked his lowest 36-hole total on Tour since 2015 Wyndham Championship (T31).

Watney holds the 36-hole lead/co-lead for sixth time on Tour, and is 1-for-5 to date converting to victory (2012 THE NORTHERN TRUST), also marks his most recent 36-hole lead/co-lead.

He missed cut in most recent Sanderson Farms Championship start (2020); and has not finished better than T8 (2006/Annadale Golf Club) in the previous four instances.

He is seeking his first victory since 2012 THE NORTHERN TRUST, one of his five Tour titles.

In most recent start, Watney began the 2021-22 season with four sub-par scores at the Fortinet Championship two weeks ago to finish T30.

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He comes off a season defined by just six made cuts in 25 starts; having finished No. 204 in the 2020-21 FedExCup (his lowest final position in a season), is using a one-time career earnings exemption for the 2021-22 season (top 50); he entered the season No. 50 on the career earnings list.

Sahith Theegala (T1/-13), the first-round leader, opened with an eagle on No. 3 before posting notching four birdies, including the final hole of the day. His lone bogey through 36 holes came on the par-5 fifth in Round Two.

Since 2006, three PGA Tour winners have converted their first 36-hole lead/co-lead at the Sanderson Farm Championship (D.J. Trahan/2006, Bill Haas/2010, Cameron Champ/2018).

The Tour rookie earned his card following top-6 finishes in his last two starts in the 2021 Korn Ferry Tour Finals (T4/Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship, 6th/Korn Ferry Tour Championship presented by United Leasing & Finance).

Prior to this week, his best position after any round on Tour was T8/2017 The Genesis Invitational (finished T49).

The California native is making his 15th start on the PGA Tour and comes off a T47 at the Fortinet Championship two weeks ago. In only previous start at the Sanderson Farms Championship, he missed the cut in 2020 (71-72—143).

 

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Chinese Taipei’s C.T. Pan shot an eagle and three birdies for a 67 and T13 position. His third start at the event and finished T12 here last year. He was T6 in the season-opening Fortinet Championship two weeks ago.

Korea’s Sungjae Im made one eagle, three birdies and two bogeys for a 69 for T15. He lost in a playoff to Sebastian Munoz in 2019.

Notables to miss the cut include defending champion Sergio Garcia, Brandt Snedeker and Gary Woodland. Asian players to miss the cut include Anirban Lahiri (by one), Kiradech Aphibarnrat (by two) and K.H. Lee (by four).

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