Mickelson, Oosthuizen enter weekend with share of lead at PGA Championship
Listowel, Ont., native Conners slips from top of leaderboard after shooting 3-over 75
The image has become familiar over the years. Phil Mickelson holes a birdie putt and drops that left fist in tempered celebration as he makes his run up the leaderboard in a major.
This was Friday at the PGA Championship, and he kept right on going until he tied for the lead with Louis Oosthuizen going into the weekend at Kiawah Island.
Even at age 50.
Tentative on the toughest stretch as he started dropping shots by missing putts, Mickelson began to look ageless with brilliant iron play and a pair of big birdies that led to a 31 on the front nine of the Ocean Course and a 3-under 69.
Oosthuizen had the best round of the week going, not so much because of his five birdies, but rather a card with no bogeys. That ended on the 18th hole that cost him the outright lead. He still had a 68 and will be in the final group Saturday.
WATCH | Mickelson, Oosthuizen lead heading into weekend:
Not to be overlooked was four-time major champion Brooks Koepka, whose two eagles were offset by four bogeys in a round of 71 that left him one shot behind.
Mickelson and Oosthuizen were at 5-under 139, the highest 36-hole score to lead the PGA Championship since the last time at Kiawah Island in 2012 when three players were at 140.
Mickelson is the oldest player to have a share of the lead at the midway point of a major since Fred Couples (52) in the 2012 Masters.
"It's really fun, obviously, to make a putt on the last hole, finish a round like that and then to have that type of support here has been pretty special," Mickelson said.
The last birdie was from just inside 25 feet on the ninth hole, with cheers that sounded louder than the limited gallery allowed and carried plenty of hope that Lefty could become golf's oldest major champion on one of the tougher tracks.
The record belongs to Julius Boros, who was 48 when he won the 1968 PGA Championship.
Canada's Conners loses lead
Canada's Corey Conners has relinquished the lead at the PGA Championship.
Conners, from Listowel, Ont., shot a 3-over 75 in Friday's second round after entering the day with a two-stroke lead.
The Canadian, who had an early morning tee time, ended the round three-shots behind leader Phil Mickelson and tied for seventh place.
WATCH | Canada's Conners sputters in 2nd round:
Conners started the day with five bogeys and two birdies before playing even-par the rest of the way.
Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C., ended Friday in 51st spot after posting a 1-under 71 with an eagle on the seventh hole.
Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont., did not make the cut.
Conners has four top-10 finishes in his past eight PGA Tour events.
Matsuyama shoots 68, DeChambeau 71
Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama had six birdies in his round of 68 and was in the group two shots behind with Grace and Christiaan Bezuidenuit (70). U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau shot 71 and was four behind.
Only 18 players remained under par.
Erik van Rooyen was so frustrated that he slammed his club into the tee marker after his shot went into the water on the 17th. The head came off, too — from his club, not to mention his shoulders.
"It's fun in a kind of a sick way," Ian Poulter said. He was 6 under through 12 holes, the best start of the week, when he noticed a video board behind the 13th green that posted his score and suggested he was in range of the course record.
It's a wonder Poulter's eyes didn't pop out of his head.
"I just started laughing to myself like, `Who in the world would write that and put that on a board with that last five holes to play?"' Poulter said.
He bogeyed four of his last six, which feature the four hardest holes on the course, for a 70.
WATCH | Conners claims opening-round lead at PGA Championship:
With files from The Canadian Press