Update: The Trans-Mississippi Championship has been shortened to a 54-hole event with the final round beginning at 1 p.m. today. Heavy morning rains forced the cancellation of at least 18 holes of the planned 36-hole finale. The next assessment of the chances for playing a final 18 is scheduled at noon.
TULSA, Okla.–Will Zalatoris is no stranger to leading major amateur golf tournaments. The 17-year-old from Plano, Texas, on Wednesday shot a 2-under-par 68 in the second round of the 111th Trans-Mississippi Championship presented by TaylorMade-Adidas. He leads the prestigious event by one shot headed into the final 36 holes at Southern Hills Country Club.
An incoming freshman at Wake Forest, Zalatoris in June won the 105th Texas Amateur Championship at historic Brook Hollow by leading that elite field over the final two rounds. Now he’s in position to do it again, this time against another top group of competitors at yet another classic golf course. His two-day total of 5-under 135 is one better than Oregon State senior Alex Franklin’s 4-under 136. Auburn sophomore Matt Gilchrest is three back at 2-under 138.
Zalatoris, who played his final 14 holes bogey-free at 3-under, is comfortable out in front. Yet he’s smart enough to know there is plenty of golf to play. Sixty-eight players made the 36-hole cut, and they’ll all play the final two rounds Thursday.
"You hear a lot of leaders say that a lot can happen in the final round," Zalatoris said. "But a lot can happen to me times two because we have two rounds to play tomorrow."
Zalatoris entered the second round tied for the lead with Franklin, who hails from San Rafael, Calif., and Michael Gellerman from Sterling, Kan. Zalatoris admittedly got off to a slow start Wednesday with two bogeys on his opening four holes.
"I kind of hit the ‘reset button,’ which is silly to say after four holes," he said. "I hit a good drive on the (par-5) fifth hole and had 265 yards to the green. I hit a great shot onto the green and two-putted for birdie. So I treated it like a new round from that point."
From there, Zalatoris poured in birdies on his seventh and 10th holes and made pars the rest of the way in.
Four Oklahomans are in the top 10 mix. Taylor Moore of Edmond and the University of Arkansas is alone in seventh at 4-under after consecutive rounds of 70. Gellerman is in a group tied for eighth along with University of Oklahoma teammate Max McGreevy and Brendon Jelley of Jenks and Oklahoma State at 3-under 141.
Franklin continued his steady play with a 1-under 69 to get within a shot of Zalatoris. He said he was nervous to start the day, having less experience leading championships the size of the Trans-Miss.
"I’ve led before, but never in anything this big," Franklin said. "I finished tied for eighth in this tournament last year, but I was never close to the lead."
The early jitters accounted for two bogeys and a double-bogey in Franklin’s first six holes, even though he also made a pair of birdies in that stretch.
"I was pretty nervous," he said. "I made one big mistake. It was No. 13, my fourth hole. I had a wedge from the middle of the fairway and I put it in the water. I made an uncommitted swing. It could have been the nerves."
To his credit, Franklin remained positive and played his final 12 holes at 3-under par. He said his goal coming into the week simply was to make the cut. Now that he’s more than accomplished that, his goals obviously have changed. But he’s not going out for Thursday’s final 36 holes with winning on his mind.
"I try not to make goals that have to do with winning or finishing in a certain place because a lot of times that’s out of your hands," he said. "Someone could go out and shoot an amazing round. There’s nothing I can do about that."
Instead, Franklin said he has three goals for the final two rounds. He wants to "play solid golf, keep his emotions in check and avoid big mistakes."
"If I can do those things, I’ll be in great shape," he said.
Gilchrest, a Southlake, Texas, native, shot a second straight 1-under 69 on Wednesday and sits alone in third place.
"Tomorrow is going to be a marathon," he said. "But that’s why you practice: to get in a position to do something special in the final two rounds."
Jin Cheng, a 16-year-old from China, provided some fireworks early in the day when he aced the 174-yard, par-3 11th, his second hole of the day. He flushed an 8-iron and hit a high draw that arched towards the flagstick.
"It landed right next to the cup and went in," he said.
Cheng used the momentum to shoot an impressive 3-under 67. He said the ace was his first in competition; he has two other hole-in-ones in practice rounds. Through two rounds, Cheng is tied for 22nd place at 3-over 143. He shot 6-over 76 on Tuesday.
"Yesterday I started par, double-bogey, double-bogey," Cheng said. "I was 4-over through three holes. Today I was 2-under through two holes, so today was much better."
Three players are tied for fourth place at 1-under 139. Jonathan Sanders from Chatsworth, Calif., Kyle Weldon from Des Peres, Mo., and Brian Campbell from Irvine, Calif., will begin the third round four shots behind Zalatoris.
111th Trans-Mississippi Championship
Southern Hills Country Club – Southern Hills
1 Will Zalatoris, Plano, Texas – 67-68–135
2 Alex Franklin, San Rafael, Calif. – 67-69–136
3 Matt Gilchrest, Southlake, Texas – 69-69–138
T4 Jonathan Sanders, Chatsworth, Calif. – 69-70–139
T4 Kyle Weldon, Des Peres, Mo. – 71-68–139
T4 Brian Campbell, Irvine, Calif. – 72-67–139
7 Taylor Moore, Edmond, Okla. – 70-70–140
T8 Michael Gellerman, Sterling, Kan. – 67-74–141
T8 Aj McInerney, Henderson, Nev. – 69-72–141
T8 Taylor Funk, Ponte Vedra, Fla. – 69-72–141
T8 Max Mcgreevy, Edmond, Okla. – 70-71–141
T8 Curtis Reed, Castroville, Texas – 71-70–141
T8 Cameron Harrell, Colorado Springs, Colo. – 72-69–141
T8 Brendon Jelley, Tulsa, Okla. – 72-69–141
T15 Benjamin Baxter, Flower Mound, Texas – 69-73–142
T15 Carl Jonson, Bainbridge Island, Wash. – 69-73–142
T15 Walker Huddy, Studio City, Calif. – 69-73–142
T15 Joe Parkinson, Alpine, Utah – 71-71–142
T15 Matt Mabrey, Little Rock, Ark. – 72-70–142
T15 Chelso Barrett, Surry, N.H. – 74-68–142
T15 Justin Keiley, Provo , Utah – 74-68–142
T22 Lorens Chan, Honolulu, Hawaii – 69-74–143
T22 Stratton Nolen, Austin, Texas – 70-73–143
T22 Scottie Scheffler, Dallas, Texas – 71-72–143
T22 Ryan Grider, Lewisville, Texas – 71-72–143
T22 Daniel Hudson, Western Springs, Ill. – 73-70–143
T22 Kade McBride, Queensland, Australia – 73-70–143
T22 Cheng Jin, Singapore, China – 76-67–143
T29 Austin Smotherman, Loomis, Calif. – 69-75–144
T29 Clancy Waugh, North Palm Beach, Fla. – 72-72–144
T29 Colby Harwell, Robinson, Texas – 72-72–144
T29 Anthony Marchesani, Oklahoma City, Okla. – 72-72–144
T29 Bryson Dechambeau, Clovis, Calif. – 73-71–144
T29 Matt Van Zandt, Houston, Texas – 73-71–144
T29 Will Griffin, Lufkin, Texas – 73-71–144
T29 Ian Vandersee, West Des Moines, Iowa – 75-69–144
T37 Matthew Perrine, Austin, Texas – 69-76–145
T37 Grady Brame Jr, Hammond, La. – 70-75–145
T37 Kolton Crawford, Mansfield, Texas – 71-74–145
T37 Xander Schauffele, San Diego, Calif. – 71-74–145
T37 Jeff Swegle, West Des Moines, Iowa – 72-73–145
T37 Aaron Cockerill, Manitoba, Canada – 76-69–145
T43 Beau Titsworth, Wexford, Pa. – 71-75–146
T43 Luke Vivolo, Carmel, Calif. – 71-75–146
T43 Gregory Yates, Mansfield, Texas – 73-73–146
T43 Kyle Pilgrim, Colleyville, Texas – 73-73–146
T43 Christian Cichan, Charlotte, N.C. – 74-72–146
T43 Sam Daley, Ames, Iowa – 74-72–146
T43 Cameron Jones, Auckland, New Zealan – 74-72–146
T43 Aaron Hickman, Tyler, Texas – 74-72–146
T43 Vincent Martino, Southlake , Texas – 75-71–146
T43 Miguel Delgado, Novato, Calif. – 77-69–146
T53 Andrew Buchanan, Los Altos Hills, Calif. – 70-77–147
T53 Sam Stevens, Wichita, Kan. – 71-76–147
T53 Kevin Schultz, Tulsa, Okla. – 72-75–147
T53 David Fink, Kailua, Hawaii – 72-75–147
T53 Jeremy Sanders, Chatsworth, Calif. – 73-74–147
T53 Josh Swanson, Bee Cave, Texas – 74-73–147
T53 Andrew Wyatt, Midland, Texas – 74-73–147
T53 Tayler Termeer, Austin, Texas – 74-73–147
T53 Chad Merzbacher, Eden Prairie, Minn. – 74-73–147
T53 Stuart Smallwood, Paris, Texas – 74-73–147
T53 Gavin Green, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia – 75-72–147
T53 Dylan Meyer, Evansville, Ind. – 75-72–147
T53 Alec Heinen, Edmond, Okla. – 75-72–147
T53 Andrew Lister, Katy, Texas – 76-71–147
T53 Anthony Maccaglia, Tampa, Fla. – 77-70–147
T53 Myles Lewis, New Orleans, La. – 77-70–147
Missed the Cut
T69 Cy Moritz, Owensville, Mo. – 73-75–148
T69 Zach Wright, Phoenix, Ariz. – 74-74–148
T69 Sam Humphreys, Edmond, Okla. – 74-74–148
T69 Logan McCracken, Oklahoma City, Okla. – 75-73–148
T69 Wesley McClain, Diboll, Texas – 75-73–148
T69 Ryan Han, Hollister, Calif. – 76-72–148
T75 Sam Saunders, Albuquerque, N.M. – 70-79–149
T75 Sarosh Adi, Frisco, Texas – 70-79–149
T75 Grant Houser, Holly Springs, N.C. – 71-78–149
T75 Landon Lyons, Baton Rouge, La. – 73-76–149
T75 Bryon Shumate, Fort Smith, Ark. – 73-76–149
T75 Eric Ricard, Shreveport, La. – 73-76–149
T75 Joseph Abella, Plano, Texas – 73-76–149
T75 Hudson Carpenter, Stillwater, Minn. – 76-73–149
T75 Patrick Grimes, Palo Alto, Calif. – 77-72–149
T75 Rylee Reinertson, Gibbon, Neb. – 77-72–149
T85 Gene Elliott, West Des Moines, Iowa – 73-77–150
T85 Tyler Thomas, San Marcos, Texas – 73-77–150
T85 Hayden Wood, Edmond, Okla. – 74-76–150
T85 Santiago Gavino, Austin, Texas – 74-76–150
T85 Connor Black, Humble, Texas – 76-74–150
T85 Zach Cabra, McKinney, Texas – 76-74–150
T85 Chase Hanna, Leawood, Kan. – 76-74–150
T85 David Lee, Houston, Texas – 76-74–150
T93 Shotaro Ban, San Jose, Calif. – 73-78–151
T93 Connor Peck, Ankeny, Iowa – 73-78–151
T93 Paul Smith, Turlock, Calif. – 74-77–151
T93 Kenneth Fadke, Hobbs, N.M. – 76-75–151
T93 Sean Walsh, Keller, Texas – 76-75–151
T93 Nick Heinen, Edmond, Okla. – 76-75–151
T93 Kevin Dehuff, Coto De Caza, Calif. – 76-75–151
T93 Eric Hallberg, Parker, Colo. – 77-74–151
T93 Colton Staggs, Tulsa, Okla. – 77-74–151
T93 Andrew Presley, Fort Worth, Texas – 78-73–151
T93 Scott Verplank, Edmond, Okla. – 78-73–151
T104 Sam Johnston, Edmond, Okla. – 73-79–152
T104 Tyler Klava, Pace , Fla. – 76-76–152
T104 Hayden Beard, Mt Maunganui, New Zealan – 76-76–152
T104 Brian Jung, Corvallis, Ore. – 76-76–152
T104 Calvin Pearson, Wichita, Kan. – 77-75–152
T104 John Sawin, San Francisco, Calif. – 77-75–152
T104 Tyson Reeder, Edmond, Okla. – 77-75–152
T104 Griffin Pierce, Edmond, Okla. – 78-74–152
T104 Conrad Walcher, Oklahoma City, Okla. – 78-74–152
T113 Frederick Wedel, Roseville, Calif. – 74-79–153
T113 Andrew Morgan, Long Beach, Calif. – 74-79–153
T113 Jack Watson, Lincolnshire, Ill. – 75-78–153
T113 Michael McGowan, Southern Pines, N.C. – 78-75–153
T113 Jacob Bishop, Edmond, Okla. – 78-75–153
T113 Dominic Kieffer, Byron, Minn. – 80-73–153
T119 Andrew Cornella, Colorado Springs, Colo. – 76-78–154
T119 Brax McCarthy, Fort Worth, Texas – 76-78–154
T119 Chris Karlovich, Broken Arrow, Okla. – 77-77–154
T122 Austin Eoff, Benton, Ark. – 75-80–155
T122 Luke Toomey, Melville, New Zealan – 79-76–155
T122 John McClure, Austin, Texas – 80-75–155
T122 Jack Smith, Knoxville, Tenn. – 80-75–155
T126 Grant Bennett, Lewisville, Texas – 74-82–156
T126 Andy Johnson, Tulsa, Okla. – 77-79–156
T126 Drew Kirby, Baton Rouge, La. – 78-78–156
T126 Jim Liu, Smithtown, N.Y. – 79-77–156
T126 Peter Krsnich, Wichita, Kan. – 79-77–156
T131 Preston Fleenor, Mission Hills, Kan. – 75-82–157
T131 Brett Walker, Las Cruces, N.M. – 77-80–157
T131 Jack Persons, San Francisco, Calif. – 78-79–157
T131 Sean Romero, Texarkana, Ark. – 79-78–157
T131 Gio Gandionco, Santa Clara, Calif. – 80-77–157
T131 Marcus Jones, Argyle, Texas – 80-77–157
T131 Blake Pugh, Southlake, Texas – 80-77–157
138 Eamon Bradley, Hammond, La. – 82-76–158
139 Jordan Rodgers, Salt Lake City, Utah – 84-75–159
140 Lawrence Field, Tulsa, Okla. – 77-83–160
141 Charles Valluzzo, Mt Pleasant, S.C. – 84-78–162
142 Mark Mance, Whitefish, Mont. – 87-78–165
143 Brent Brockermeyer, Los Angeles, Calif. – 76-WD–WD