Phil Mickelson overcame a brutal stretch on his outward nine to post a 3-under 69 and claim a share of the halftime lead at the PGA Championship.
Mickelson, who started his second day at the Ocean Course on No. 10, birdied the par-5 11th to quickly get in the red. But the 50-year old ran into trouble with a bogey on the 13th hole, and then dropped back-to-back shots on 17 and 18 to turn in 2 over and even-par for the tournament.
After a par to settle down, Mickelson turned back the clock and reeled off five birdies in his final eight holes to reach 5-under par.
The final birdie on no. 9 was vintage Lefty – a 25-foot bomb that sent the 6-deep gallery surrounding the green into an absolute frenzy.
“It’s really fun obviously to make a putt on the last hole to finish a round like that,” said Mickelson in a post-round interview with ESPN.
“And then to have to have that type of support here has been pretty special. It’s been a lot of fun so far.”
Louis Oosthuizen joined Mickelson atop the 36-hole leaderboard with a round of 68. The South African held the outright lead until a dropped shot on the final hole.
Still, the 2010 British Open champion was satisfied with his day.
“Drove it as good as I can drive it, and ball-striking was pretty good with the irons,” said Oosthuizen.
“With really windy conditions, you need that ball-striking to be on song.
“Probably gave myself, I don’t know — I think I hit 14 or 13 greens around this golf course in today’s conditions is pretty good.”
Brooks Koepka was next at 4 under par following a second-day 71. The four-time major winner is the clear favorite heading into the weekend, and was having none of the concerned talk about wind or conditions.
“It’s a major, man. It’s going to be tough, especially with the wind blowing. It doesn’t matter, just go out and go play,” said the blunt-talking Koepka.
Reigning Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama (68) was among a trio at T4 on 3 under, one clear of a group which included 2019 U.S. Open winner Gary Woodland (71), and two ahead of reigning U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau (71), who bogeyed 14 and 18 to fall back to 1 under.
Defending PGA champion Collin Morikawa was 1-over par following a 75, as was Lee Westwood (72) and Will Zalatoris (74), among others.
Next were Patrick Cantlay (73) and Tony Finau (72) who headlined a group at 2 over.
Rickie Fowler shot a 4-over 76 but made the cut with a 3-over score, alongside Rory McIlroy (72), Jon Rahm (75), Justin Rose (75), and others.
Jordan Spieth (75) was in a group at 4-over par, one clear of the final lot at T63, who snuck into the weekend on 5 over, including Patrick Reed (75) and Webb Simpson (74).
World Nos. 1, 2 and 4: Dustin Johnson (74), Justin Thomas (75) and Xander Schauffele (77), respectively, were sent packing at 6 over par.
For DJ, he becomes the first world No. 1 since Greg Norman in 1997 to miss the cut in two straight majors. Thomas, meanwhile, owns a T21 and MC in his two major starts, and is quickly earning a reputation as big-stage flop.
2021 PGA Championship
Top-10 Leaders: Round 2
Pos-Player-To Par (Rd 2)
1. Phil Mickelson -5 (-3)
1. Louis Oosthuizen -5 (-4)
3. Brooks Koepka -4 (-1)
4. Hideki Matsuyama -3 (-4)
4. Chris Bezuidenhout -3 (-2)
4. Branden Grace -3 (-1)
7. Paul Casey -2 (-1)
7. Kevin Streelman -2 (E)
7. Sungjae Im -2 (E)
7. Corey Conners -2 (+3)
7. Gary Woodland -2 (E)