Phil Mickelson moved to the top of the leaderboard through the morning wave of golfers by shooting a 3-under-par 69 in Friday’s second round of the PGA Championship at The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, S.C.
Now 50, Mickelson moved to 5 under for the tournament. His only PGA Championship win came in 2005 at Baltusrol Golf Club.
“I’m enjoying the challenge and I’m playing well enough to do it, but I just need to be present on every shot,” Mickelson said.
No golfer age 50 or older has been in the top five of the PGA Championship through 36 holes since Hale Irwin in 1999.
Branden Grace of South Africa surged into the lead and was in position to hold the top spot at the midway point. But he lost that chance with a double-bogey 5 on the 17th hole and followed that with another bogey, so he ended up at 71 for the round. He’s at 3 under for the tournament.
Kevin Streelman and South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout all 3 under for the tournament with one hole remaining in their Friday rounds.
The tournament largely has become a test for players to navigate the windy conditions on the course that hugs the coast.
Mickelson began the round at No. 10 and he carded three bogeys and a birdie through that backside. He was almost flawless the rest of the way, finishing the final eight holes with five birdies.
“The course setups are very penalizing that you’ve got to be focused every shot,” Mickelson said. “If I lose my focus on any holes out of 72, the field here is going to eat me up and so that’s the big challenge for me to get in contention.”
First-round leader Corey Conners of Canada tumbled off the leaderboard and into a T10, shooting 75. The round included seven bogeys.
Conners, who’s 5 under on the opening day gave him a two-shot edge going into the second round, had a miserable stretch on the back nine with four consecutive bogeys. He recovered on the next hole with a birdie on No. 16 before finishing with a pair of pars.
Conners couldn’t replicate his first round.
“You’re going to get in spots where you need to get the ball up-and-down and hole a putt or two, and you need to be able to do that,” Conners said.
Many of the others in the top 10 after the first day had afternoon tee times Friday. Those included past champions Brooks Koepka, Keegan Bradley and 2020 winner Collin Morikawa. Viktor Hovland and Aaron Wise were both two shots behind entering the day and had later tee times.
Cam Davis of Australia was 6 over through 15 holes of the second round after a 3 under Thursday.
By mid-day, several notable golfers were in danger of missing the cut, though many of them had more holes to play or the entire round in front of them. That list included Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Webb Simpson and 2021 Masters runner-up Will Zalatoris.
Johnson, the world’s No. 1-ranked golfer, shot 76 on Thursday and wasn’t faring better Friday, going 2 over through 16 holes. Thomas, who’s No. 2 on that list, opened with 75.
–Field Level Media