Mickelson's Magic -- Can lefty win major at 50?

2021 PGA Championship / 2nd Round

PGA Championship 2021 R2
May 20-23
Ocean Course, Kiawah Island, SC
Round 1, Round 3, Round 4

PGA Championship 2021 R2 - Mickelson's Magic -- Can lefty win major at 50?
(AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes


KIAWAH ISLAND, SC. After nine holes of his second round, it appeared Phil Mickelson was heading backwards and that the 50-year-old’s moments from a fine first round of 70 would be his main contribution. Guess again.


PGA Championship 2021 R2

Mickelson brilliantly rallied on the front nine — his back nine — for a scorching 31 total which included five birdies against no scorecard blemishes.

The gallery that followed Lefty was smitten with the svelte physique Phil is now sporting and the golf he showcased had galleries whooping it up in a big-time manner. Mickelson’s 70-69 has him sharing the top position halfway through the 103rd PGA Championship. 


PGA Championship 2021 R2

Just a few weeks ago at the Wells Fargo event Mickelson opened up with a 64 before fading during the final three rounds.

Should Phil somehow pull out a victory it would mean his 2nd PGA Championship — but more importantly, accomplish something never done in the history of golf in surpassing Julius Boros who is golf’s oldest major winner at 48 when winning the 1968 PGA Championship. Mickelson’s last major championship win came in 2013 at The Open Championship at Muirfield and his last PGA TOUR victory was at the 2019 AT&T Pro-Am event which he claimed for the 5th time.


PGA Championship 2021 R2

The pathway for Mickelson will not be easy. A stellar leaderboard includes a number of world class players. Sharing the 36-hole lead with Mickelson is Louis Oosthuizen. The South African played a solid round featuring five birdies and a lone bogey at the 18th. Four-time major winner Brooks Koepka took an early stumble in the 2nd round with two bogeys in the first six holes before making eagles at the par-5 7th and 11th holes respectively. An additional birdie at the 12th had Koepka atop the leaderboard but two late round bogeys at the 15th and 17th holes have him just one shot back.  


PGA Championship 2021 R2

Koepka’s fallback was matched by Brendan Grace. The South African had moved up the leaderboard with quality play with four birdies to snare the outright lead at -6 before taking a major tumble at the dangerous par-3 17th scoring double-bogey and then ending his round with a concluding bogey. Nonetheless, Grace is just two shots behind the leaders.

Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama also made a strong move during the 2nd round posting a score of 68 and could have been better if not for a final hole bogey at the challenging 18th hole. The Japanese star player will begin the 3rd round just two shots off the joint lead.


PGA Championship 2021 R2

First round leader Casey Conners stumbled in his opening nine holes but recovered with two late birdies for a round of 75. He will start the 3rd round three shots back.

All in all, the final 36 holes for possession of the Wannamaker Trophy is shaping up to be a major tussle. Who could have imagined a 50-year-old sitting atop the leaderboard? 

What will Phil do next. Stay tuned.

PGA Championship 2021 R2 - Mickelson's Magic -- Can lefty win major at 50?

PGA Championship 2021 R2

Notes —

*The PGA of America originally was going to keep on-site gallery size to a max of 10,000. That number has since been expanded with weekend totals likely to rise to 15,000 each day.

*The cut after the first two rounds fell at +5 – 147. Among the notable going home early include world number one ranked Dustin Johnson. DJ was out of sorts for the event scoring a 150 total. This is Johnson’s first missed cut at a major championship since the 2018 Open Championship. The concerns about where Johnson is at from a golfing perspective are only intensifying.


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PGA Championship 2021 R2

*Ian Poulter displayed vintage form in the 2nd round — scoring four birdies and an eagle at the par-5 7th — which elevated him to -4 for the championship and just one shot behind then leader Brendan Grace. Once Poulter reached the par-4 13th he pulled his tee shot into the deep rough, his recovery only fared even worse and he was fortunate to escape with a bogey. However, the positive early momentum evaporated as he concluded the final five holes with three other bogeys. The Englishman now stands at even par and can only shake his head and wonder what happened.

*Once again — the hardest holes came late in the round with the likes of the 15th, 17th and 18th holes. Playing back into the wind for the second consecutive day the impact of the holes was demonstrated on the scorecards of a number of players. Most notably, Brendan Grace who reached the 17th tee at -6 for the championship courtesy of four birdies against no hiccups on the scorecard. That changed rapidly with a double-bogey on the 17th and a concluding bogey on the 18th. The South African is still a contender at -3 but the impact of the finish will clearly be on his mind when Saturday’s 3rd round gets underway.

*Weather conditions for the final 36-holes expect sunny skies but wind directions are expected to shift following 3rd round play. With wind flipping around from the opposite direction, The Ocean Course will feature an entirely different situation with Sunday’s final round.


PGA Championship 2021 R2

*Three of the toughest holes, thus far, in the championship have come in the final four holes. The par-3 17th is the most challenging with a stroke average of 3.589. The 2nd most demanding is the 18th — coming in at 4.503. Both holes have yielded the fewest birdies in the event with 12 each. The water-protected 17th has also inflicted the most “other” scores for the event with a mindboggling 10 total.

*Rory McIlroy, the pre-tournament betting favorite, recovered from his opening round 75 and scored 72 to finish at 147 and T38. 

*Rickie Fowler, who received an exemption into the event from the PGA of America, did not fare as well as he did in the opening round — scoring 76 after a first round 71.

PGA Championship 2021 R2

Pos.
Player
To Par
R1
R2
Total
T1
Phil Mickelson
-5
70
69
139
T1
Louis Oosthuizen
-5
71
68
139
3
Brooks Koepka
-4
69
71
140
T4
Branden Grace
-3
70
71
141
T4
Christiaan Bezuidenhout
-3
71
70
141
T4
Hideki Matsuyama
-3
73
68
141
T7
Corey Conners
-2
67
75
142
T7
Gary Woodland
-2
70
72
142
T7
Kevin Streelman
-2
70
72
142
T7
Sungjae Im
-2
70
72
142
T7
Paul Casey
-2
71
71
142
T12
Richy Werenski
-1
71
72
143
T12
Joaquin Niemann
-1
71
72
143
T12
Harry Higgs
-1
72
71
143
T12
Martin Laird
-1
70
73
143
T12
Jason Kokrak
-1
71
72
143
T12
Bryson DeChambeau
-1
72
71
143
T12
Charley Hoffman
-1
73
70
143
T19
Matt Fitzpatrick
E
73
71
144
T19
Padraig Harrington
E
71
73
144
T19
Ian Poulter
E
74
70
144
T19
Shane Lowry
E
73
71
144
T19
Keegan Bradley
E
69
75
144
T19
Viktor Hovland
E
69
75
144
T25
Daniel van Tonder
1
75
70
145
T25
Cameron Smith
1
72
73
145
T25
Will Zalatoris
1
71
74
145
T25
Bubba Watson
1
72
73
145
T25
Lee Westwood
1
73
72
145
T25
Tom Lewis
1
71
74
145
T25
Collin Morikawa
1
70
75
145
T32
Abraham Ancer
2
74
72
146
T32
Tony Finau
2
74
72
146
T32
Patrick Cantlay
2
73
73
146
T32
Tyrrell Hatton
2
71
75
146
T32
Scottie Scheffler
2
72
74
146
T32
Matt Wallace
2
73
73
146
T32
Brad Marek
2
73
73
146
T39
Rasmus Hojgaard
3
71
76
147
T39
Jon Rahm
3
72
75
147
T39
Carlos Ortiz
3
73
74
147
T39
Justin Rose
3
72
75
147
T39
Steve Stricker
3
76
71
147
T39
Cam Davis
3
69
78
147
T39
Joel Dahmen
3
74
73
147
T39
Rickie Fowler
3
71
76
147
T39
Jimmy Walker
3
73
74
147
T39
Stewart Cink
3
71
76
147
T39
Rory McIlroy
3
75
72
147
T50
Adam Hadwin
4
77
71
148
T50
Russell Henley
4
78
70
148
T50
Daniel Berger
4
79
69
148
T50
Jordan Spieth
4
73
75
148
T50
Lucas Herbert
4
76
72
148
T50
Dean Burmester
4
74
74
148
T50
Matt Jones
4
73
75
148
T50
Byeong Hun An
4
73
75
148
T50
Robert MacIntyre
4
75
73
148
T50
Danny Willett
4
77
71
148
T50
Jason Scrivener
4
73
75
148
T50
Brian Gay
4
77
71
148
T50
Aaron Wise
4
69
79
148
T63
Robert Streb
5
77
72
149
T63
Wyndham Clark
5
75
74
149
T63
Sam Horsfield
5
69
80
149
T63
Jason Day
5
74
75
149
T63
Patrick Reed
5
74
75
149
T63
Billy Horschel
5
77
72
149
T63
Webb Simpson
5
75
74
149
T63
Ben Cook
5
72
77
149
T63
Talor Gooch
5
71
78
149
T63
Brendan Steele
5
75
74
149
T63
Harold Varner III
5
73
76
149
T63
Garrick Higgo
5
73
76
149
T63
Tom Hoge
5
74
75
149
T63
Henrik Stenson
5
73
76
149
T63
Harris English
5
75
74
149
T63
Alex Noren
5
77
72
149
T63
Emiliano Grillo
5
77
72
149
T63
Chan Kim
5
75
74
149
T63
Denny McCarthy
5
73
76
149
CUT
Andy Sullivan
6
73
77
150
CUT
Brian Harman
6
75
75
150
CUT
Antoine Rozner
6
79
71
150
CUT
Chez Reavie
6
77
73
150
CUT
Dustin Johnson
6
76
74
150
CUT
Sergio Garcia
6
77
73
150
CUT
Victor Perez
6
78
72
150
CUT
Mackenzie Hughes
6
75
75
150
CUT
Marc Leishman
6
74
76
150
CUT
Adam Scott
6
78
72
150
CUT
Xander Schauffele
6
73
77
150
CUT
Justin Thomas
6
75
75
150
CUT
Peter Malnati
6
78
72
150
CUT
Si Woo Kim
7
75
76
151
CUT
Sebastian Munoz
7
77
74
151
CUT
Rich Beem
7
74
77
151
CUT
Tommy Fleetwood
7
76
75
151
CUT
Maverick McNealy
7
78
73
151
CUT
Brendon Todd
7
74
77
151
CUT
Thomas Detry
7
76
75
151
CUT
Danny Balin
8
79
73
152
CUT
Chris Kirk
8
76
76
152
CUT
Cameron Tringale
8
70
82
152
CUT
Dylan Frittelli
8
73
79
152
CUT
Jason Dufner
8
71
81
152
CUT
Zach Johnson
8
74
78
152
CUT
Ryan Palmer
8
74
78
152
CUT
Martin Kaymer
8
75
77
152
CUT
Lanto Griffin
8
74
78
152
CUT
Jim Herman
9
78
75
153
CUT
J.T. Poston
9
75
78
153
CUT
Greg Koch
9
76
77
153
CUT
Bernd Wiesberger
9
78
75
153
CUT
Hudson Swafford
9
77
76
153
CUT
Erik van Rooyen
9
72
81
153
CUT
Kurt Kitayama
10
77
77
154
CUT
Sami Valimaki
10
78
76
154
CUT
Max Homa
10
78
76
154
CUT
Matt Kuchar
10
77
77
154
CUT
Adam Long
10
72
82
154
CUT
George Coetzee
10
75
79
154
CUT
John Catlin
10
75
79
154
CUT
Kevin Kisner
10
77
77
154
CUT
Brett Walker
10
77
77
154
CUT
Kalle Samooja
10
74
80
154
CUT
Pete Ballo
11
80
75
155
CUT
K.H. Lee
11
78
77
155
CUT
Charl Schwartzel
11
76
79
155
CUT
Tim Pearce
12
79
77
156
CUT
Aaron Rai
12
81
75
156
CUT
Ben Polland
12
76
80
156
CUT
Mark Geddes
12
75
81
156
CUT
Jazz Janewattananond
13
77
80
157
CUT
Rob Labritz
13
76
81
157
CUT
Brandon Hagy
13
77
80
157
CUT
Kevin Na
13
79
78
157
CUT
Cameron Champ
15
82
77
159
CUT
Stuart Smith
15
82
77
159
CUT
Rikuya Hoshino
15
76
83
159
CUT
Thomas Pieters
16
76
84
160
CUT
Alex Beach
17
75
86
161
CUT
Shaun Micheel
17
81
80
161
CUT
Brandon Stone
17
78
83
161
CUT
Takumi Kanaya
17
75
86
161
CUT
Patrick Rada
18
76
86
162
CUT
Sonny Skinner
19
85
78
163
CUT
Larkin Gross
20
80
84
164
CUT
Frank Bensel, Jr.
21
86
79
165
CUT
Joe Summerhays
21
81
84
165
CUT
Omar Uresti
21
82
83
165
CUT
Derek Holmes
21
79
86
165
CUT
Tyler Collet
26
88
82
170
CUT
John Daly
27
85
86
171
WD
Sam Burns
E
41
41
DQ
Y.E. Yang
E
75
83
158