If you missed the golf on Saturday, just imagine Phil Mickelson’s entire career squeezed into 18 holes. There were highs and lows, cheers and groans. Somehow, someway, he holds the 54-hole lead at the 2021 PGA Championship and has a sixth career major title in his sights.
Philip Alfred – After a blistering second round that got him into contention, 50-year-old Phil Mickelson was faced with a tall task on Saturday. Many (*bashfully raises hand*) expected him to regress quickly to his recent mean, but instead he blitzed the front nine at the Ocean Course to the tune of 32 (-4). He then birdied No. 10 to extend his lead to five. Then the trouble started. A bogey on No. 12 and a duck-hook-induced double on the 13th brought him back to the field. Ultimately, he managed to guide his ship home for a 70 and a one-shot lead after 54 holes. As we indicated yesterday, we didn’t expect Phil to get this far. Few people did. He hasn’t finished in the top 10 at a major in five years, and his best golf lately has come on the senior tour. But here he is, 18 holes away from one of the most unexpected wins in recent golf history. Whatever happens tomorrow, Phil Mickelson’s first three days at Kiawah Island have been a delight to follow, and we’re excited to see how the story ends on Sunday.
Brooks is here – As he’s done all week, Brooks Koepka played like a guy who knows how to handle himself in a major championship. A third-round 70 put him one shot back and in Sunday’s final group with Phil. Really, we shouldn’t be surprised. Koepka showed strong form in the spring and almost always gets up for majors. And yet given that he had knee surgery two months ago, it’s incredible to see him performing this well at a venue as physically demanding as the Ocean Course. Much like his horrible hats, Brooks has patched it together this week. One more solid round and he may collect his third Wanamaker in four years.
Plodding along – Louis Oosthuizen had a journey of his own alongside the Mickelson roller coaster on Saturday. Oosty fell as many as six shots behind Phil but worked his way back within two by the end of the day (with some help from Lefty).
If everything goes right – Behind the leading trio of Mickelson, Koepka, and Oosthuizen, six more players are within five shots of the lead. All have at least a glimmer of hope (in Data Golf terms, a greater-than-one-percent chance) to come from behind tomorrow. Kevin Streelman (-4), Christiaan Bezuidenhout (-3), and Branden Grace (-3) are the closest, while three players— Bryson DeChambeau, Gary Woodland, and Joaquín Niemann—are two under.
One final bit of wind content – No doubt we and others in golf media have hammered this talking point into the sand this week, but wind is everything at the Ocean Course! It was fairly calm today, but tomorrow the wind is projected to switch directions, giving an advantage to better prepared, more adaptable, and perhaps more experienced players. Also, whereas the final five holes will probably play somewhat easier, the middle eight (Nos. 6-13) will be significantly tougher.
Wei-Ling Hsu and Moriya Jutanugarn are tied for the lead at the Pure Silk Championship on the LPGA Tour, and Jessica Korda is one off the pace. Leaderboard
Cameron Young holds a two-shot lead over Dawie van der Walt on the Korn Ferry Tour while Lorens Chan, Nick Hardy, and Vince India are still in the hunt. Leaderboard
The women’s golf team from the University of North Texas won the Let Them Play Classic, hosted by Barstool Sports. Barstool quickly arranged the makeup event for teams left out in the cold when an NCAA regional tournament in Louisiana was canceled under questionable circumstances. Full Story from Julie Williams
Following a bogey-bogey finish, Jon Rahm wasn’t exactly all smiles in the interview room. “I really don’t want to be here right now,” the new dad said.
Jordan Spieth put together a sparkling Saturday 68 that was marred only by a bogey on No. 17. Spieth has played extremely well tee to green this week but has been let down by his trusty old Scotty Cameron. He’s T-13, but seven shots off the lead.
Twitter was delighted when Phil Mickelson requested that a drone be moved from his line of sight on the 4th hole.
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