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PGA Championship 2021: Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka Top Leaderboard Entering Round 4

Blake SchusterContributor IMay 23, 2021

Maddie Meyer/PGA of America/PGA of America via Getty Images

Phil Mickelson gave the field a chance to catch him Saturday at the PGA Championship on Kiawah Island's Ocean Course. They may regret missing the opportunity.

As the 50-year-old searches for his first Wanamaker Trophy since 2005, Mickelson ran the gamut of emotions on the course, opening up what felt like an insurmountable lead on the front nine only to give it all back after the turn.

It hardly mattered, anyway. Mickelson retained the lead after 54 holes and will enter the final round Sunday as the man to beat.

Shane Bacon @shanebacon

Is ... is this the best Phil Mickelson has ever played in a major championship?

That's despite continued charges from the likes of Brooks Koepka, Louis Oosthuizen and Kevin Streelman, who continued to put pressure on Mickelson throughout Saturday.

Here's a look at the leaderboard—and Mickelson's wild round—as moving day comes to a close in South Carolina.

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Phil Mickelson is the oldest player to hold 54-hole lead in PGA Championship history (4th 50-year-old at any major in masters era).<br><br>It has been 16 years since he won at 2005 PGA, would be longest gap between wins at a single major in history pic.twitter.com/6j6uRiHb17


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PGA Championship Saturday Leaderboard

1. Phil Mickelson (-7)

2. Brooks Koepka (-6)

3. Louis Oosthuizen (-5)

4. Kevin Streelman (-4)

T5. Christiaan Bezuidenhout (-3)

T5. Branden Grace (-3)

T7. Bryson DeChambeau (-2)

T7. Joaquin Niemann (-2)

T7. Gary Woodland (-2)

T10. Paul Casey (-1)

T10. Sungjae Im (-1)

T10. Corey Conners (-1)

Notables: T13. Jordan Spieth (E), T13. Rickie Fowler (E), T13. Tony Finau (E), T23. WIll Zalatoris (+1), T23. Hideki Matsuyama (+1), T38. Jon Rahm (+3), T51. Rory McIlroy (+5)

Full leaderboard available via PGA Tour


Recap

Mickelson entered the day as co-leader with Oosthuizen at five under par only to surge to 10 under by the time he reached the tee box at the par-five 11th hole—thanks to a furious front nine.

PGA TOUR @PGATOUR

Pin-seeking from the sand. 🎯<br><br>The lead is now 3 for @PhilMickelson. #PGAChamp pic.twitter.com/zGXd7lfe37

PGA TOUR @PGATOUR

-3 thru 6. ⬇️<br><br>4-shot lead for @PhilMickelson. 💪pic.twitter.com/wtaPPrrIL9

PGA TOUR @PGATOUR

The year is 2021, and @PhilMickelson is walking in birdie putts for a 5-shot lead on a Saturday at a major. #PGAChamppic.twitter.com/sVOBcK4kaE

Things wouldn't continue to look so easy for the lefty on the back nine.

Mickelson was forced to two-putt to save par on No. 11, missing a prime opportunity to run away from the field. Instead, he went on to bogey the par-four No. 12 hole before a disaster of a tee shot found the water on No. 13. The tour veteran nearly dropped in a bogey to avoid too much damage, but just barely pushed the putt.

Mickelson's five-stroke lead evaporated in a fraction of the time it took him to build it up.

After sinking five birdies through his first 10 holes, it was as close to a meltdown as Mickelson had found himself in all weekend.

Things continued to snowball on the 16th tee when Mickelson's attempt to short the water hazard landed in the far right rough and wedged itself underneath a nearby golf cart.

BetMGM 🦁 @BetMGM

Phil putting one under a golf cart tire is the most relatable thing I’ve seen all day pic.twitter.com/VAV9lQhiuf

Right as rules officials attempted to get Mickelson an unobstructed second shot, Koepka sank a birdie putt on No. 16 to grab a share of the lead at seven under, putting pressure on Lefty for one of the first times all weekend.

PGA TOUR @PGATOUR

280 yards uphill ➡️ 17 feet. 👏@BKoepka finds the par-5 green in 2 and two-putts to move into the co-lead at -7.pic.twitter.com/EsM7yQ1kb5

Mickelson responded by blasting his second shot out of the rough and laying up 104 yards from the cup on the par five, only to watch his birdie putt rim out of the cup as he once again settled for par.

A bogey on No. 18 from Koepka kept the contender from entering the clubhouse tied for the lead as Mickelson ended his day right where he began—sitting atop the leaderboard.

Despite finishing two under with one of the best rounds of the day, Koepka called the round one of his worst putting performances during an interview on the CBS broadcast. It's a pretty fair assessment given Koepka hit 77.78 percent of his greens in regulation only to gain 0.087 strokes putting, per PGATour.com.

PGA TOUR @PGATOUR

-2 thru 5 to start the back nine has @BKoepka just 1 back at -6. 👀pic.twitter.com/4jGDo4TRat

PGA TOUR @PGATOUR

Most majors entering the weekend inside the top 3 of leaderboard since 2017:<br><br>7 - Brooks Koepka<br>4 - Tommy Fleetwood<br>3 - Louis Oosthuizen<br>3 - Jason Day<br>3 - Justin Rose<br>3 - Kevin Kisner@BKoepka starts the day 1 back. pic.twitter.com/jEefS10AaK

One of the most impressive rounds of the day belonged to Jordan Spieth, who along with Billy Horschel tied for the lowest score of the day (68) as the Texas native moved to even par for the weekend after failing to shoot below 73 on the first two days.

PGA TOUR @PGATOUR

Here he comes. @JordanSpieth is just 4 back. pic.twitter.com/p096GIo6O7

The only flaw on Spieth's day came on No. 17. Following a tee shot that flew well to the left of the green on the par three, Spieth two-putted for his only bogey of the round on five birdies.

As Spieth walked back to the clubhouse, his mind wasn't on his game, but Phil's, telling reporters he was rushing to the nearest TV to watch the leader finish out his round.

"It's theater," Spieth said. "I promise you I'm going to turn it on to watch him today. It's pretty incredible."

Mickelson can go from incredible to historic Sunday as he attempts to snap a 16-year drought at the PGA Championship.

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