Phil Mickelson had a two-shot lead among early starters, and if his lead held, he would be the oldest player to lead after any round of a major since 59-year-old Tom Watson had the 54-hole lead at Turnberry in the 2009 British Open
Kiawah Island (SC): The image has become familiar over the years. Phil Mickelson holes a birdie putt and drops that left fist in tempered celebration as he makes his run up the leaderboard in a major.
This was Friday at the PGA Championship, and he kept right on going until he was in the lead. Even at age 50.
Tentative on the toughest stretch at Kiawah Island as he started dropping shots by missing putts, Mickelson began to look ageless Friday in the PGA Championship with brilliant iron play and a pair of big birdies that led to a 31 on the front nine of the Ocean Course and a 3-under 69.
He had a two-shot lead among early starters, and if his lead held, he would be the oldest player to lead after any round of a major since 59-year-old Tom Watson had the 54-hole lead at Turnberry in the 2009 British Open.
“It’s really fun, obviously, to make a putt on the last hole, finish a round like that and then to have that type of support here has been pretty special,” Mickelson said.
The last birdie was from just inside 25 feet on the ninth hole, with cheers that sounded louder than the limited gallery allowed and carried plenty of hope that Lefty could become golf’s oldest major champion on one of the tougher tracks. The record belongs to Julius Boros, who was 48 when he won the 1968 PGA Championship.
Branden Grace had a flawless round and was in the lead until he hit his tee shot into the water on the par-3 17th and made double bogey, and then made bogey on the closing hole for a 71.
Mickelson was being interviewed on TV when Grace fell back with his double bogey, and this development immediately was conveyed to him. He was not overly excited.
“If you were to tell me that Sunday night, I’d really enjoy that,” Mickelson said. “But right now there’s a lot of work to do. … The fact is I’m heading into the weekend with an opportunity and I’m playing really well and I’m having a lot of fun doing it.”
Mickelson has not won on the PGA Tour in three years. His last major championship was the 2013 British Open at Muirfield. He no longer is among the top 100 in the world.
But he’s Phil Mickelson, who has spent a career leaving fans wondering what he’ll do next.