History beckons for Mickelson at Kiawah Island

Bernie McGuire
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History beckons for Mickelson at Kiawah Island

Phil Mickelson (Photo by Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

Golfing history beckons for Phil Mickelson heading into the weekend rounds of the 103rd PGA Championship.

A second round three-under par 69, that included five birdies over his closing eight holes, handed Mickelson the clubhouse lead at five-under par before being joined by fellow Open champion Louis Oosthuizen (68) on the windswept Ocean Course at Kiawah Island.

Just a shot back is 2018 and ’19 back-to-back PGA winner Brooks Koepka (71).

Mickelson’s lofty position, just a month shy of his 51st birthday, has everyone wondering if he can do the unthinkable and win a sixth Major, eight years after capturing his last at the 2013 Open Championship.

In working his way to a share of the 36-hole lead Mickelson had the statisticians working overtime:

  • Seeks sixth major title and second PGA Championship win (2013 Open Championship, 2010 Masters Tournament, 2006 Masters Tournament, 2005 PGA Championship, 2004 Masters Tournament)
  • Opens 70-69, the 19th major championship he has carded scores of 70 or better in the first and second rounds; he won (2005 PGA Championship) or finished runner-up (8, most recent: 2016 Open Championship) in nine of previous 18 instances; he last opened with sub-70 scores at the 2020 Masters (69-70) before finishing T55
  • 2005 PGA Championship winner seeks to become the oldest major winner and first player to win a major after age 50 (oldest major winner: 48 years, 4 months, 18 days/Julius Boros/1968 PGA Championship)
  • Marks 36th lead/co-lead after 36 holes on the PGA TOUR; converted 18-of-35 to victory so far (most recent: 2019 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am)
  • Marks 23rd lead/co-lead after any round of a major (most recent: 2016 Open Championship/R2/finished runner-up)
  • Becomes the first player age 50 or older to be inside the top five on the leader-board through 36 holes at the PGA Championship since 1999 (Hale Irwin/50)
  • Becomes the sixth player since 1900 to lead/co-lead after any round of a major in four different decades (1990s, 2000s, 2010s, 2020s); others: Sam Snead, Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Raymond Floyd)
  • Becomes the second player since 1958 when the PGA Championship went to stroke play to lead/co-lead after 36 holes at the age of 50 years or older (54/1966/Sam Snead)
  • Last player age 50 or older to lead/co-lead after any round of a major: Fred Couples/2012 Masters/R2
  • Leads the field with 12 birdies through 36 holes
  • Marks his 38th round in the 60s at the PGA Championship, second-most all-time by a player (41/Jack Nicklaus)
  • Does not have a top-10 on the PGA TOUR since the 2020 World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational (T2), a span of 16 starts
  • 44-time PGA TOUR winner has not won since 2019 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

Mickelson’s second round included a second hole birdie but also three bogeys, at his fourth, eighth and ninth holes, ahead of his run of five inward half birdies.

And in speaking with both CBS and SKY Sports post his round, along with answering just a few questions from the written media, Mickelson kept his sunglasses on the whole time to look more like a rock star than a soon-to-be 51-year-old.

“I’m having a lot of fun, and to play well, to know I’m playing well heading into the weekend, to be in contention, to have a good opportunity, I’m having a blast,” he said.

“I’m excited for the weekend. This has been a lot of fun.”

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