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Will Zalatoris should be given a medal for what he did on Torrey Pines' South Course Friday

January 29, 2021

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We were promised carnage on Friday at Torrey Pines, and boy, did we get some carnage. Nothing makes these players look more human than some inclement weather, and yes, that includes guys who got to play the easier North Course in Round 2.

On the weekend it'll be all South Course, all the time, and it should be a fun weekend at that. Here are five takeaways from Day 2 at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Will Zalatoris deserves a medal

Normally, we wouldn't lead with a guy three off the lead, but three off the lead at Torrey Pines means you are still very much in contention, and the manner in which Will Zalatoris remained in contention deserves some serious shine. His second-round score of 71 on the South Course was certainly strong, but doesn't sound all that impressive on paper. That is until you check the stats and see that he shot one under despite hitting ONE fairway. The PGA Tour's Sean Martin pointed out just how remarkable this was with a crazy stat:

Even more impressive is that this was no bomb-and-gouge act. Zalatoris is not a short hitter by any means, but he's also not overly long. This was not Bryson DeChambeau wailing driver and wedging on. Zalatoris averaged 298 yards off the tee Friday, and somehow managed to piece together a 71 with his chipping and putting. Very impressive grinding, though, as Martin later pointed out, it doesn't come close to Marc Leishman's final round last year, when the Aussie shot a 65 and hit just three fairways. At a course that is supposed to penalize you if you miss fairways, it sure does seem like driving accuracy doesn't matter, which is something a lot of sharp guys in the gambling and daily fantasy community had been pointing out all this week.

Ben Jared

Shocker alert: Jon Rahm still the man to beat at Torrey

Any doubts about the mysterious injury that kept Jon Rahm out of the American Express have been promptly quelled through 36 holes. His five under 67 on the North Course got him to eight under, which puts him in excellent position to make a run at a second Farmers victory, or a fourth top-5 finish in six tries, at minimum. What's truly scary is that he's leading despite hitting only half his fairway and just 66 percent of his greens. If he gets it seriously clicking over the weekend, we could be looking at a runaway for World No. 2.

Maybe Viktor Hovland deserves the medal

Yes, we heaped plenty of praise on Willy Z, but we should have saved most of that praise for Viktor Hovland, who got the brunt of the bad weather late Friday on the South Course. That didn't stop the young Norwegian from shooting a ridiculous seven-under 65, which, considering the brutal conditions, might go down as the round of the year.

He is your solo leader at nine under, and is very quietly threatening to take the top spot in the Wolff-Morikawa-Hovland power rankings with his recent run of form.

Ben Jared

You're never going to believe who is in contention ...

Just kidding. It's Tony Finau, who is among those at eight under and, yet again, in position to claim his first win since the 2016 Puerto Rico Open. I'm not even going to bother with the same paragraph I've written for what feels like the last two years (is THIS the week he gets it done?!). You get it by now. I sincerely hope we're finally writing about him finishing one off Sunday. That's all.

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There were some EJECTIONS on Friday

Just to further drive home how insane Hovland's 65 was, the Round 2 score-to-par on the South Course was the highest it's been since 1983. One guy who contributed to that was Scottie Scheffler, who was one off the lead after shooting a seven-under 65 on the North Course Thursday. On Friday, he threw up a seven-over 79 to miss the cut by one. Oof. Beau Hossler pulled off a similar reversal, opening with a 66 on the North and following it up with a 78 on the South to also miss the cut by one. Lastly, we regret to inform you that Jordan Spieth also went three under Thursday, three over Friday, and he also missed the weekend by a stroke. The search continues for the three-time major winner, whose last win (2017 Open Championship) feels like it came a decade ago.