AS IT STANDS -5 Mickelson, Oosthuizen; -4 Koepka; -3 Matsuyama, Grace, Bezuidenhout; -2 Conners, Woodland, Streelman, Im, Casey. SELECTED OTHERS -1 Laird, DeChambeau; +3 McIlroy; +4 MacIntyre; +6 D. Johnson, Thomas
Without a top-10 on the PGA Tour this season, 50-year-old Phil Mickelson rolled back the years on day two at Kiawah Island to power into a share of the 36-hole lead at the US PGA.
The five-time major winner sits at the top of the leaderboard on five-under-par after backing up his two-under 70 on day one with a superb 69 early on Friday.
He is joined in the lead by former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, the pair holding a one-shot advantage over two-time winner Brooks Koepka.
Oosthuizen's fellow South Africans Branden Grace and Christiaan Bezuidenhout are a further shot adrift on three-under alongside Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama, with first round leader Corey Conners and 2019 US Open champ Gary Woodland in a group on two-under.
The day, though, belonged to Mickelson.
On Thursday, the 2005 champion said he was “making progress”. On Friday, he made a bit more by throwing himself into contention for major championship No.6.
Mickelson made hay in his second round by playing the two nines from , which meant he could finish his round by charging down the stretch on the easier nine. And he did, playing the last eight holes in five-under.
Mickelson has been on-and-off on the PGA Tour this year. He sampled a bit of the senior circuit in 2020 and won twice but, so far this year, has played primarily on the main tour.
But, at his age, he’s well aware it’s not easy.
Yesterday, he was even talking up his competition. “There guys are so good, they are so talented,” he said. “If I lose my focus on any holes out of 72, the field is going to eat me up and so that’s the big challenge for me to get in contention.”
After his second round, he talked about how his new process of meditation has improved his approach to competition.
"Physically I'm able to perform and hit the shots that I want to hit. But I haven't been able to be as sharp mentally and I've been working on that. As I've gotten older, it's been more difficult to focus on longer periods of time. It's been fun making some putts this afternoon."
Should Phil win, he would become the oldest major champion in history.
Meantime, world No.1 Dustin Johnson was amongst a number of high-profile players to miss the cut.