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The Telegraph

Phil Mickelson hangs on after fast start to take slender lead into final round

Phil Mickelson is just the sixth player aged 50 or over ever to hold the 54-hole lead in a major. Yet as remarkable an achievement as that sounds, that simple statement does not begin to do justice to the incredible drama we witnessed here at the 103rd US PGA Championship. Even for the pro they call Phil The Thrill this stretched exhilaration towards breaking point. Golf’s great showman marched five clear, encountering a drone, before quickly being caught, in the midst of seeing his ball come to rest under the front wheel of a buggy. But in the final holes, and with one last magical chip, Mickelson went ahead again, emulating the feat of Tom Watson at Turnberry in 2009 and a few other legendary oldies of yore. On Sunday, Mickelson will attempt to take the age-defiance that one step further by becoming the first 50-or-over to win a major and so smash Julius Boros’s long-standing oldest major-winner record by more than two years. The upshot of this almost insane sporting fare is that on seven-under, after a 70, Mickelson is one ahead of Brooks Koepka (70), with South African Louis Oosthuizen (72) on five under and another American in Kevin Streelman (70) on four-under. Whatever Mickelson and his ever expanding band of admirers get to take away, he and they will surely never forget the extraordinary 18-hole run, cast over two days, he played in 10-under at one of the major’s toughest tests. He has always possessed the magical ability to send his golf ball up vertically, so it perhaps should not have come as too great a shock to discover that he can also make the clock go backwards. Except a pro ranked 115 in the world, without a single top-20 on Tour in nine months, should simply not be able to do this, regardless of his years.