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PGA Championship 2021: Phil Mickelson, Louis Oosthuizen Co-Leaders After Round 2

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIMay 22, 2021

Phil Mickelson watches his tee shot on the seventh hole during the second round of the PGA Championship golf tournament on the Ocean Course Friday, May 21, 2021, in Kiawah Island, S.C. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
AP Photo/Chris Carlson

Louis Oosthuizen and Phil Mickelson are tied at five under par to lead the 2021 PGA Championship heading into the weekend at Kiawah Island Golf Resort's Ocean Course in South Carolina. 

Reigning Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama is hot on their heels after finishing Friday at three under, while four-time major winner Brooks Koepka is just one shot behind the lead.

Branden Grace, who was at six under before double-bogeying the 17th hole and bogeying the last, sits at three under. Fellow South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout is tied with Grace following his two-under 70 on Friday.

A heap of players are sitting at two under, including 2019 U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland and first-round leader Corey Conners. Defending U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau is four shots behind at one under. 

Some of golf's greatest players have not figured out the Ocean Course, with South Carolina native Dustin Johnson notably among them. The 2020 Masters champion shot two over to fall one shot below the five-over cut line.

A few big names grinded all day but were able to move on, including Rory McIlroy (plus-three) and Rickie Fowler (plus-three).

Other golfers who won't be moving on include Sergio Garcia (plus-six), Justin Thomas (plus-six), Tommy Fleetwood (plus-seven) and Matt Kuchar (plus-10).

This day was ultimately about Mickelson, as he looks to become the oldest player (and first one 50 or older) to win a major. Even landing top-five after 36 holes at a major as a 50-year-old or older is rare enough.

PGA Championship @PGAChampionship

The last player 50+ to be in the top 5 through 36 holes at a Major was Fred Couples at the 2013 Masters. <br><br>(h/t @ESPNStatsInfo) #PGAChamp pic.twitter.com/5BE39H2CFM

The five-time major champion has three Masters titles, one Open Championship and a PGA Championship already.

Mickelson hasn't finished higher than 18th in a major since his epic duel with Henrik Stenson at the 2016 Open Championship. He looks like he'll finish well above that mark this weekend.

It was a rocky start for Mickelson on Friday, as he shot two over in his first nine holes (the back nine), including three bogeys from Nos. 13-18.

Mickelson caught fire on the front nine, though, nailing five birdies to vault from even-par to five under.

PGA Championship @PGAChampionship

.@PhilMickelson had five birdies on his second nine of the day. 🔥#PGAChamp pic.twitter.com/8uR9ppKbzv

Three of those birdies came in a four-hole stretch, with the last one occurring after Mickelson drained a 15-foot putt on No. 5:

PGA Championship @PGAChampionship

Phil is FEELING it. <br><br>Three birdies in his last four holes.#PGAChamp pic.twitter.com/C84Kgta4sB

The putter stayed hot through Mickelson's last hole, when he drilled this 22'7" putt to close the second round:

PGA Championship @PGAChampionship

🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥@PhilMickelson closes the days with 5 birdies coming in to get back in the hunt. #PGAChamp pic.twitter.com/f0DXMdSQDr

Mickelson struggled in his first nine holes on both days (two over) but dominated in his back nines (four-under Thursday, five-under Friday). He couldn't explain why that was the case in a post-round chat with reporters (h/t Adam Stanley for PGAChampionship.com).

“I don't know if I have a great answer for you. I think that I was patient even though things weren't quite going well at the moment, and I had a few shaky strokes on 16, 17 and 18 where I was very tentative. I was able to make an adjustment on the front and ended up making some really good putts. I putted very well.”

But Mickelson is in great spirits going into the last weekend, as he relayed to reporters: “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. I'm excited for the weekend. This has been a lot of fun.”

A win would also grant Mickelson an exemption into the U.S. Open, which is the only major he has not won. Mickelson has not yet earned a spot in the field, which will compete at Torrey Pines Golf Course in his native San Diego beginning June 17.

A hot putter certainly helped his co-leader's cause.

Oosthuizen nailed a 33'9" birdie on No. 4, a 13'8" putt on No. 6 and an 11'9" putt on No. 12 in addition to shoot a stroke under on the first and 11th holes.

PGA Championship @PGAChampionship

Three birdies on the front nine led Louis Oosthuizen's charge up the leaderboard. #PGAChamp pic.twitter.com/awuzKn9Ao9

PGA Championship @PGAChampionship

With his 5️⃣th birdie of the day, @Louis57TM is the new solo leader at -6.<br><br>Full Leaderboard: https://t.co/QV8fkpw4hG#PGAChamp pic.twitter.com/mGM3Zpz6mn

The South African did bogey the last, which was his first of the day. However, Oosthuizen, who won the 2010 Open Championship and has finished second in majors on four other occasions, has now made major cuts 12 straight times.

Koepka, who has won the PGA Championship and U.S. Open two times apiece, posted a pair of eagles on Nos. 7 and 11 to help him co-lead with Oosthuizen at six under for a spell.

The seventh hole didn't start well, with his tee shot going in a waste bunker. But he rebounded and got on the green with his approach shot, giving himself 41 feet for an eagle. Koepka delivered, moving to even par on the round after a pair of bogeys to start his day.

PGA Championship @PGAChampionship

Let's revisit that @BKoepka eagle again, shall we?#PGAChamp pic.twitter.com/lKbpG06Ns4

Four holes later, Koepka used a 375-yard drive and a beautiful approach to find himself within 19 feet for the eagle. Once again, his putter stayed hot.

PGA Championship @PGAChampionship

🗣 ANOTHER ONE!<br><br>Brooks Koepka sinks his second eagle of the day, bringing him one back of the lead.#PGAChamp pic.twitter.com/oc7ZTwictc

A birdie on the 12th put Koepka in a tie for the lead with Oosthuizen at six under, but he dropped one back after a 4'7" par putt lipped out on No. 15. He dropped another shot after finding the bunker on the 17th off the tee before missing a par chance.

Television coverage of the third round will begin at 10 a.m. ET on ESPN before moving over to CBS at 1 p.m.