SAN FRANCISCO, CA (July 13, 2016) -- Will Zalatoris and Jared du Toit on Wednesday created some separation between themselves and the field comprised of some of the best amateur golfers in the world, during the second round of the 113th Trans-Mississippi Amateur Championship.
Zalatoris, a junior at Wake Forest, shot a bogey-free 65 on the iconic Lake Course at The Olympic Course to maintain possession of the lead at 9-under-par 131. Du Toit, a senior at Arizona State, also made it around The Olympic Club sans bogey and poured in seven birdies for a tournament-best 63. He’s one shot behind Zalatoris through 36 holes at 8-under 132.
Du Toit (pronounced “dew-twah”) tied the Lake Course’s competitive record held by Jim Gallagher Jr., who recorded a 63 in the first round of his 1993 PGA Tour Championship victory at The Olympic Club. The next closest pursuers to Zalatoris and du Toit are six shots off the lead.
John Oda from Honolulu, Hawaii, and Braden Bailey from Groves, Texas, share third place at 3-under 137. Doug Ghim from Arlington Heights, Ill., and Ruben Sondjaja from Ames, Iowa, are tied for fifth place at 2-under 138.Twenty-two of the top 200 players in the World Amateur Golf Rankings comprised the field at this year’s Trans-Miss Championship. That includes World Amateur No. 1 Maverick McNealy, the Stanford senior and 2015 NCAA National Player of the Year. After rounds of 71-69, he’s currently tied for 11th place at even-par 140.
The best golf through 36 holes on this five-time U.S. Open course, however, has come from Zalatoris, the 60th-ranked player in the world. More than a little familiar with the Bay Area, Zalatoris grew up in San Francisco until he was 9 years old. That’s when his parents Rick and Cathie moved the family to Plano, Texas, in 2004. Before they did, the Zalatoris’ belonged to nearby California Golf Club, where one afternoon Ken Venturi, the 1964 U.S. Open champion, fixed Zalatoris’ grip on the driving range and told him to never change it.
Zalatoris never has. That grip, along with his fluid swing and championship-tested mettle, helped him hit 30 of 36 greens in regulation over the first two rounds of the Trans-Miss Championship. Zalatoris, who won the rain-shortened 111th Trans-Miss Championship in 2014, has been particularly potent on the back nine, where he is 8-under overall. He’s birdied every hole on the back nine except Nos. 13 and 18, and he has birdied the 14th twice. When asked about his affinity for The Olympic Club’s inward nine, Zalatoris said he was just as proud of his success over the first six holes, a stretch which club members confirm is the toughest on the course.
“On the first six holes you just try to get through and make as many pars as you can,” said Zalatoris, who also in 2014 won the U.S. Junior Amateur and 105th Texas Amateur. “I’m 2-under total on the first six; I’ll take that every time. To shoot 66-65 on a U.S. Open course, obviously my confidence is running high.”
The holds true for du Toit, the 58th-ranked amateur in the world who was born in Calgary, Ontario, but resides Scottsdale, Ariz. In his first year on the Canadian National Team, du Toit has played The Olympic Club’s back nine at 7-under overall. Neither du Toit nor Zalatoris has recorded a bogey on the back half of the course, which bodes well for both headed into Thursday’s 36-hole finale.
During Wednesday’s second round, du Toit dropped five birdies on the back nine and hit 16 greens in regulation overall.
“Everything felt good,” said du Toit, winner of the 2015 British Columbia Amateur and 2016 Glencoe Invitational. “I kept it in play pretty much the whole round. I converted some putts, which took a good round to a great round.”
The renowned hillside Lake Course, tucked between Lake Merced and the Pacific Ocean, played almost exactly the same in first two rounds terms of difficulty. A testament to the golf course maintenance staff and the Texas Golf Association staffers who set up the course, The Olympic Club played to a stroke average of 73.61 in the second round compared to 73.67 in Tuesday’s first round.
Fourteen of the 144 players have shot even-par or better through 36 holes. At 1-over 141, David Bolen from Lubbock, Texas, leads all mid-amateurs at the championship’s midway point. Each year at this event, the Trans-Miss Golf Association honors the low mid-amateur (ages 25 and older) with a gold medal. Bolen is currently tied for 15th place overall.
Sixty-five players survived the 36-hole cut at 5-over 145 and will play 36 holes Thursday. At the end of the fourth round, another name will be etched into the Trans-Miss Championship 112-year-old trophy. That player will reside in perpetuity next to the event’s impressive list of former champions. Included in that group are World Golf Hall of Fame members Jack Nicklaus, Ben Crenshaw and Deane Beaman. Nicklaus, the 18-time major champion, won the Trans-Miss Championship twice (1958 and ’59).
In addition to the five U.S. Opens, the Sam Whiting-designed parkland gem has held three U.S. Amateurs, two PGA Tour Championships, the 2004 U.S. Junior Amateur and 2015 U.S. Four-Ball Championship. In 2021, the USGA brings the U.S. Women’s Open to The Olympic Course.
For more information on the 113th Trans-Miss Championship, including complete scoring, click here.