Rory McIlroy’s slim hopes of a second US PGA Championship victory at Kiawah Island disappeared as Phil Mickelson continued his mesmerising bid to make history.
McIlroy put the finishing touches to a disappointing third round of 74 on Saturday, just as the final pair of Mickelson and Louis Oosthuizen headed to the first tee in a share of the lead.
That state of affairs did not last long however, former Open champion Oosthuizen three-putting the first before Mickelson clicked into top gear in brilliant fashion.
Aiming to surpass Julius Boros – who was 48 when he won the US PGA in 1968 – as the oldest major winner, Mickelson fired a long iron from 267 yards onto the green on the par-five second and two-putted from 15 feet for birdie.
The 50-year-old left-hander then span his approach from a fairway bunker to within two feet of the pin for a tap-in birdie on the next, holed from 17 feet for another on the sixth and two-putted the par-five seventh for a fourth gain of the day.
And with his rivals taking one step forward and one step back, Mickelson reached the turn at nine under par with a four-shot lead over Oosthuizen, Branden Grace, Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama and Brooks Koepka.
Bogey at the last for Streelman
But that’s a very good round of 70 and he is fourth on his own at four-under. Well placed going into tomorrow.
BIRDIE for Koepka
No eagle, but the two-putt birdie takes him level with Mickelson, who got fortunate with his tee shot and was able to advance the ball into the fairway.
Loose from Mickelson
Sat back on his left side and has flipped his drive at 16th over towards some nasty sea grass. That is in the lap of the gods.
On said par five…
Koepka has launched a three wood on to the front of the green in two. Will be 20 feet or so for eagle. What a message to send back to Mickelson who is stood on the tee.
Gary Woodland has made a rare two at the 17th. Now five behind.
Pars for Mickelson and Oosthuizen
They stay at six and seven under respectively. Long par five coming up next.
To the 15th
Textbook ball-striking from Oosthuizen, fairway and green found and pin high. Further down the fairway is Mickelson, who leaves his shot well below the hole. Outside birdie chances coming up.
Big putt holed on the last by Niemann
The young Chilean finished with a rare birdie at 18 to reach two-under. That’s still within touch.
Both players miss their birdie putts
Mickelson grazed the left edge. But let’s admire the quality of the tee shot:
To the 14th
Long par three with the pin in the back left today. Oosthuizen takes it on with a high draw and it is right on line, and just about takes a seat on the back of the green. Another few yards and it would have run down the ramp and left a devilish chip. Will be a birdie chance.
Mickelson works in an even better shot from right to left, landing it in the fat of the green and letting it feed down to within five feet. What a reply after some adversity, that was majestic.
Kevin Streelman reaches five-under
He has put together a clean card today, just the one bogey on it, and he converts for birdie at the par five 16th to reach five-under.
Birdie chance slips by for Koepka
Great tee shot on the par three 14th but the chance to tie the lead goes begging. Sunjae Im pours in a birdie at the 16th to reach three-under, he is now only four back.
Double bogey for Mickelson
Good salvage attempt but two shots go. Form five shots clear, the lead is now just one shot and seven-under. This will give any player in red figures hope they are still in this.
They respond with two wonderful iron shots
Oosthuizen finds the heart of the green but Mickelson’s is even better, right over the top of the pin. Will have a realistic chance of saving a bogey.
Mickelson finds water on the 13th!
That’s two missed fairways and errant drives now. The worst part is he watched Oosthuizen stand up and carve one into the canal before him and followed him in!
Mickelson plays three off the tee and this one finds the short stuff.
The lead is now just two!
Oosthuizen rolled in his birdie putt from six feet or so. Good response from him after a rocky start.
Koepka’s birdie earlier on 12
Mickelson’s par putt comes up millimetres shy
But it’s the first bogey of the day and he falls back to nine-under. One bogey can become three very easily on this back nine.
Safe from Mickelson
Plays well away from the water but that will be a lengthy par putt.
Oosthuizen stiffs one on the 12th
Flirted with the water to the front right pin but it is perfect now. Birdie chance coming up.
Mickelson had to pitch out into the fairway due to the ball being well below his feet in the sand.
Meanwhile, DeChambeau has made a double bogey at the 17th to fall out of contention.
He finally gets a putt to drop and joins Oosthuizen at six-under.
No birdie for Mickelson at 11
And Oosthuizen goes one better to cut the lead the four. The South African now six-under on his own. He then stands up and threads his tee shot into the left side of the fairway on 12.
Mickelson finally with a mis-cue off the tee, turning one over a little too much and it runs into a pot bunker. Might be an awkward stance there as a left-hander, standing out of the bunker.
Three putts for Matsuyama at the 12th
That’s consecutive bogeys at just the wrong time and he falls back to three-under.
Mickelson’s second finishes in the goalmouth
Will be a fairly straightforward pitch up the gut of the green.
Mickelson then stands up and splits the 11th fairway
This par five is the second easiest on the course, so this could be another birdie chance. In his wildest dreams, surely Mickelson would not have envisaged driving the ball this well. He’s finding fairways like Fred Funk out there.
The lead is FIVE!
No mistake from Mickelson and he extends the advantage. Some tough holes to follow between here and the clubhouse though.
More brilliance from Mickelson
Was on a slight downslope but he pinched the gap wedge off the turf perfectly and it checks up around eight feet from the cup. Another birdie chance coming up.
Woodland rolls in a birdie at the 11th
A bit up and down from the big American today, but that gets him back to four-under.
Lovely drive again from Mickelson
Takes a driver and peels a high fade back into the middle of the cut and prepared. Hard to see Mickelson being caught if he keeps his tee shots on a string like this.
Koepka buries a birdie at 10!
It’s once again four players at five-under, four behind Mickelson. The leader is stood on the 10th tee and making his turn for home.
Fun and games around the ninth green
Oosthuizen and Mickelson both in the bunker, so close together that they had to call in a rules official. Mickelson had to lift and replace his ball to enable Oosthuizen to play his shot. Both produce good recoveries, and should make par fours.
Pin point approach from Woodland
Mickelson pipes another drive on the ninth
Looks so confident off the tee having sprayed the ball off the planet for most of the season before this week.
Birdie for Oosthuizen on the eighth
A good response to missing that short putt on seven, but Mickelson also cleans up well by holing a six foot par putt. The leader is nine-under with Koepka, Matsuyama, Oosthuizen and Grace tied at five-under.
Branden Grace holes a putt from off the green on eight
The South African moves into a tie for second on five-under with that birdie two.
The eagle putt hangs on the left edge
But it’s another expertly navigated hole from Mickelson. Four birdies in his first seven and is now nine-under par. Oosthuizen misses a tiddler for birdie and stays at four-under.
Another beauty from Mickelson
A towering five iron lands pin high on the par five seventh. Will have an eagle putt coming up from around 25 feet. A chance to reach double digits under par.
Koepka closes the gap
Made hard work of the two-putt birdie on the par five seventh, but he made it. Matsuyama also joins him at five-under with a birdie two at the eighth.
And now Mickelson has split the fairway on the seventh
A chance to take on the green in two and find another birdie. Up at the green, Matsuyama holes a gutsy par putt to stay at four-under.
Mickelson now EIGHT UNDER
The putt was never anywhere else, rolls straight it the front door. Mickelson now three under thru six holes of his third round.
It’s another superb iron shot from Mickelson
He wraps his left hand over the shaft to get it turning from left to right and it feeds in towards the pin. Magnificent shot from the primary rough and another birdie chance coming up.
To the sixth…
Mickelson’s drive runs out of room and settles in the right rough. Better to be there than in the sandy waste areas this week though. Up at the green, Grace has dropped a shot to fall back to three-under.
And Koepka’s par putt from three feet lips out! Mickelson’s lead is three again.
Little change on the leaderboard
Solid par threes at the fifth fro Mickelson and Oosthuizen. The 51-year-old remains two shots clear.
Mickelson cleans up for par
That was a solid stroke, and the lead is maintained. Par three fifth up next.
Birdie for Koepka
That has been coming, and the major specialist is now second on his own at five-under.
Meanwhile, Gary Woodland has made a double bogey at the sixth to tumble back to two-under.
Birdie two at the sixth from Grace
He bounces back to five-under and is playing very nicely. Mickelson’s bunker shot was played a little too well of anything, testing par putt coming up on the fourth.
A drone causing some trouble
Mickelson is annoyed that it is causing a distraction and is also worried about hitting it with his second into four. He pushes the iron shot to the right and finds the bunker.
Koepka up and out of the birdie try at the fourth
He stays at four-under. Matsuyama piped another iron shot on the par three fifth and drains the putt to move into the tie for second at four-under.
Mickelson now THREE clear
He has shown off all his skills so far and is looking very comfortable out there.
Another good shot from Koepka
Has has played well so far but has not holed his share of putts. Will have another birdie try coming up after a pin-point iron on the fourth.
More brilliance from Mickelson
Missed the fairway at the short par four third, but caught a gap wedge clean off the top of the waste bunker and it rips back once it lands to within a couple of feet. Will be back-to_back birdies and move him to seven-under.
Gary Woodland has come up on the rails
A couple under for his day through four holes and four-under for the tournament. He won his US Open at Pebble Beach so likes coastal layouts. Paul Casey has birdied the sixth to get back to two-under.
The eagle putt slips past
But is still a welcome birdie and Mickelson moves to six-under. Two shots clear of the field now but Grace has hit a nice wedge into the third and will have a putt to reach five. Oosthuizen fails to convert on the second, that’s a bogey-par start.
A moment of magic from Mickelson
That will take some beating as shot of the day. Had 272 yards home on the par five second, and sent a high draw into orbit with a driving iron. Landed just short of the surface and skipped forward, releasing out to closer than 15 feet. Eagle try coming up to take control of this tournament.
Branden Grace holes one from downtown
A birdie putt from 50 odd feet topples in on the second. He joins the tie for second at four-under. Good try from Koepka but it’s just a par for him.
Fairways found on the par five second
Mickelson and Oosthuizen should be able to have a cut at the green from where their drives finished.
No eagle for DeChambeau at the seventh, but the birdie gets him two two-under. Just three behind.
Par for Mickelson on the first
But Oosthuizen three-putts. That’s a nervy start and the bogey leaves Mickelson in the lead on his own. Koepka finds the middle of the green on the par five second, but in three shots.
Eagle chance coming up for DeChambeau
He cut the par five seventh down to size and has the chance to jump to three-under coming up.
Safely in the middle of the green from Mickelson
A well controlled wedge from the juicy stuff. Oosthuizen also catches a piece of the front part of the green from the wasteland. Koepka has found the right rough off the tee on the par five second.
Gutsy par putt from Koepka
He escapes with a four on the first just when he looked bound to make bogey. Stays at four-under. Hideki Matsuyama also started with a par.
Mickelson and Oosthuizen on the first tee
Mickelson hit 11 fairways yesterday, he could be a hard man to beat if he keeps up that level of accuracy. He has the honour, elected three wood, but it gets away from him to the right and settles in the rough. No disaster but awkward.
Now Oosthuizen with driver, and it his hooked badly, over all the rough into the waste area. He is a long way down though so looks to have a clear shot to the green.
Mistake from Koepka on the first
Flies his wedge shot too far and it rolls into one of the collection areas. Tough up and down for par there.
He actually goes with putter but leaves it more than 10 foot short.
Brooks Koepka and Branden Grace on the first tee
Right side of the fairway for Koepka and likewise Grace who squeezes out one of his trademark low fades.
Will Zalatoris birdied the eighth after a stunning approach but has given it straight back on the ninth. He turns at one-under for the tournament.
McIlory’s race looks run
By Phil Casey, PA
When Rory McIlroy won the 2012 US PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, it was a third-round 67 which helped propel him to victory.
Nine years on it was a completely different story as the pre-tournament favourite failed to take advantage of more benign conditions on the Ocean Course on South Carolina’s Atlantic coast.
With the remaining field separated by 10 shots following the halfway cut, McIlroy may have harboured hopes of a fast start on Saturday to get back into contention for a first major title since the second of his US PGA victories in 2014.
But those hopes suffered an immediate blow when he hit his opening tee shot into the water, before seven straight pars were followed by a much needed birdie on the ninth.
For the second time this week McIlroy then found water off the tee on the 10th and although he again escaped with a bogey as he had on Thursday morning, further dropped shots followed on the 11th and 15th.
McIlroy’s frustrations will have been increased by a glance at the scoreboards dotted around the course, a change in wind direction contributing to improved scoring conditions for the early starters.
WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play winner Billy Horschel recorded an eagle and three birdies in his 68, with former US Open champion Webb Simpson and PGA professional Benny Cook both shooting 69.
“Even though I shot three under, it was a bit of a frustrating back nine,” Simpson said. “I had a clean front nine, birdied 11 and then just made a couple of bad mistakes.
“Three-putt on 12, a couple of bogeys from the middle of the fairway but I made a lot of birdies, birdied 14 and 16, so a bit up and down on the back nine.
“But my game was better today for sure than the first two days and it was nice to make a lot of birdies. Conditions were good. We didn’t have much wind at all on the front. Picked up on the back, I guess probably what’s normal here, but I don’t think it’s going to get too hard for the guys out there.”
Phil ready to go
Dropped shots over at the fourth
Both Hoffman and DeChambeau miss short par putts. All very untidy from both so far. Up at the 18th, Spieth lags up well to tap in for a third-round 68. It leaves him level par for the tournament.
Birdie for Jon Rahm at the 11th
He has loitered on the fringes of contention this week. Now one-under for today’s round and back to two-over for the tournament.
Spieth comes up a little shy with his pitch on 17 so looking at a likely bogey.
Keegan Bradley has moved to two-under
Rolled in a birdie putt at the par three fifth. He is putting together a solid round and looks good from tee to green despite his fidgety routines. Tom Lewis has sadly made a double bogey at the sixth.
Spieth is going well today, five-under for the day, but has missed the par three 17th well left.
Tony Finau on the move
Makes his third birdie of the day to go one-under for the tournament. Scottie Scheffler has also moved to one-over after another birdie.
DeChambeau taking on the par five second
Had iron in his hands but got slightly too much fade on it and his ball ends up in the run-off area. Still a chance to get up and down for birdie.
McIlroy has reached the 14th, but is plodding along at five-over.
A big step back Hovland
He makes double bogey at the third. Only a short par four but the green is like an upturned saucer, running off at all sides. Easy to mess up if you get your distance control wrong.
DeChambeau getting going
Drives a piercing long iron beneath the breeze which bounds down the first fairway. Lovely start.
Dahmen’s fun comes to an end
After the front nine of 31, he starts the back nine with a double-bogey six. Tumbles back to even par.
Crazy front nine from Justin Rose
He was four-over par through his first four holes but has reeled off four consecutive birdies to get them all back. A great show of resilience.
Eagle for Zalatoris
He jumps to one-under and just outside the top 10 after a cracking three on the par five second. Tom Lewis on the same score after two birdies in his first three holes.
Birdie on the first for Keegan Bradley
He moves into red figures for the week. Will Zalatoris has also found the green in two on the par five second.
What a round in progress by Joel Dahmen
He is now two-under for the tournament after a sterling front nine of 31. He could post a score and then watch the leaders fall apart from the comfort of his hotel room this afternoon.
Spieth converts at the par five 11th
Four birdies and bogey free today which shows what can be done in calmer conditions. He is back to level par for the tournament, five behind.
Another Webb Simpson birdie
He bounces back to one-over with a birdie four on the 16th. Will Zalatoris has missed a birdie chance at the first, he stays on the same score.
Birdie for McIlroy at the ninth
Turns in level for the day, seven pars, one birdie and one bogey. The putting stroke has looked good this week but he has been too errant off the tee.
Bob Marek’s stretches the highlight of the week
Conditions certainly more benign today
A number of three and four-under rounds in progress. A good chance for some of these players around par to make a fast start and close on the leaders. Morikawa has made a par four on the first, while Matt Wallace has birdied the second to get back to one-over.
Joel Dahmen has made a move
Three birdies in the first five holes to get back to level par for the week.
Defending champions getting started
Collin Morikawa has found the first fairway with a gentle fade off the tee. He starts the day six shots behind the leaders.
Another glorious iron shot from Simpson
Scared the hole on the par three 14th which is playing easier today with the wind helping and off the right. A chance for the 2012 US Open champion to get back to level par.
Cracking approach to the 6th for McIlroy
Will have a short-range birdie putt to get back to three-over.
Tyrrell Hatton starting his third round
He is a danger despite being two-over. Some of his iron play has been fabulous and he can go seriously low when he gets going.
Webb Simpson continues his forward momentum
His good pal Jordan Spieth had just missed a shot birdie putt on the par five seventh. Still a good round in process at two-under for the day and two-over for the tournament.
Not much happening out there for McIlroy
He is one-over through his first four holes and four-over for the tournament. A long way back from there.
Cink sinks one
Some early movers
Webb Simpson and the sharp-dressing Billy Horschel are three-under for their day at the turn and back to two-over for the championship.
When the leaders are heading out
18.30 Joaquin Niemann (Chl), Harry Higgs
18.50 Paul Casey (Eng), Richy Werenski
19.00 Kevin Streelman, Sungjae Im (Kor)
19.10 Corey Conners (Can), Gary Woodland
19.20 Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa), Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn)
19.30 Brooks Koepka, Branden Grace (Rsa)
19.40 Phil Mickelson, Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa)
Jordan Spieth has got himself back to two over
A leaderboard packed with quality
Six birdies earned Phil Mickelson a shot at his first major title since 2013, as he entered the final two rounds of the PGA Championship six under par and tied for the lead with South African Louis Oosthuizen.
A trio of bogeys left him at two over after nine holes but the American lefty, who started on the back nine, came alive in the latter half of the second round, carding three-under par 69 after draining a 22-foot-plus putt for birdie on the par-four ninth to wild applause at the Ocean Course.
“I had to be patient but I was able to make a few birdies there,” said the five-time major winner.
“I’m heading into the weekend with an opportunity.”
The 50-year-old will become the oldest major winner if he can fend off a stacked field of competitors and survive windy conditions that have derailed others, with his brother on the bag.
“My brother has been doing a phenomenal job judging the wind,” said Mickelson. “Making that kind of adjustment is very difficult to do and he’s been doing a phenomenal job.”
Standing between him and golf history is Oosthuizen (67), who nimbly navigated tough conditions to put up five birdies.
The 2010 Open Champion hit greens consistently but was cruelly deprived of a perfect round – and the outright lead – after a missed putt led to a bogey on the par-four 18.
“It’s going to be probably up there as one of my best (rounds),” the 38-year-old said in a televised interview. “It was tough today – I’m just glad that I was striking really good.”
Rounding out the top three was American Brooks Koepka (71), who showed flashes of brilliance with a pair of eagles but struggled with uneven play with four bogeys two months after undergoing knee surgery.
“It’s definitely a ball strikers’ golf course,” said Koepka, who ended the day one stroke back from the lead. “I’m four under so I feel alright.”
Reigning Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama (69) of Japan nearly ended the day tied with two-time PGA Championship winner Koepka after putting up six birdies, but a bogey on 18 saw him slip into a three-way tie for fourth with South Africans Branden Grace (71) and Christiaan Bezuidenhout (70).
The blustery Kiawah Island course pulled no punches, flummoxing a stacked field that failed to produce a single bogey-free round through the first two days.
Overnight leader Canadian Corey Conners (75) saw his lead evaporate as he stumbled into five bogeys in the first six holes starting off the back nine, with four birdies the only reminder of his effortless, five-under-par first-round performance.
World number one Dustin Johnson turned in a disastrous two-over-par performance to miss the projected cut along with second-ranked American Justin Thomas.
Johnson, who also missed the cut at last month’s Masters, was the first world number one to miss the cut at consecutive majors since 1997.