|-5 P Mickelson (United States), L Oosthuizen (SA); -4 B Koepka (United States), -3 H Matsuyama (Jpn), B Grace (SA), C Bezuidenhout (SA);|
|Others selected: -2 P Casey (English); -1 B DeChambeau (United States); E I Poulter (Eng), M Fitzpatrick (Eng), S Lowry (Ire), P Harrington (Ire); +2 T Hatton (Eng) +3 J Rose (Eng), R McIlroy (NI)|
Phil Mickelson starts the weekend with a share of the PGA U.S. Championship lead as he seeks to become the oldest player to win a major title.
The 50-year-old is on par with South African Louis Oosthuizen at five below par on the Kiawah Island ocean course.
Mickelson, who envisioned a first major win in eight years, birdied five in his last nine holes for an under-three 69.
Two-time winner Brooks Koepka is back, with Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama one of three to three cents.
Oosthuizen looked set to be the only player not to drop a second-round shot on the longest course in major league history as he approached 18th in the lead at six under par.
But the 2010 Open champion hit his second from the back of the green and it resulted in his first bogey of the day signing for a 68.
“I played well,” Oosthuizen said. “My whole game is really good. I have been working on my putting and my short game for a long time and I am where I want to be. “
Pre-tournament favorite Rory McIlroy finished with three successive bogeys to leave himself three above par for the tournament.
Ian Poulter had previously worked his way through the mix before fading to finish at normal level. Fellow Englishman Paul Casey has two cents while Scottish Martin Laird is a shot down.
South African Branden Grace was among the early starters and he led until he sent his tee shot to the dreaded 223-yard par-three 17th into the water on the way to a double bogey and he then bogeyed the 18th to slip to three cents.
Matsuyama is also three under par after a bogey on the back ended his second lap 68.
Only 18 players are below par after the first two rounds, but 24 are within five strokes of the joint leaders.
Mickelson focuses on Kiawah Island
Mickelson won the Wanamaker Trophy at that event in 2005, but the last of his five major titles came at the Open in 2013 and his most recent victories came on the PGA Champions Tour.
World number 115 says he tries to improve his focus and stay more “present” by practicing meditation and other exercises to increase his focus.
That work came to fruition on Friday as “Lefty” improved throughout his round and rolled in a 22-foot birdie on the last to fully take the lead as Grace fell back.
Having started in the 10th, he hit the turn one over, before a sensational streak of five birdies saw him play the last nine in 31 strokes.
“You’re going to be doing a lot of bogeys here, but if you can manage to prevent doubles that’s an important thing,” said Mickelson, who is the first player aged 50 or over to hold at least a 36- share. lead hole since Sam Snead in 1966.
“Physically, I was able to hit the punches I want to hit as well as ever, but I wasn’t that sharp mentally and I wasn’t able to visualize as well. It’s (meditation) has been a big part of me. capable of making some of these shots.
“It gets harder and harder as I get older to focus for longer periods of time, so I tried to lengthen my focus – maybe I could play 36 or 45 holes to try and focus longer. that only 18..
“I have tried to lengthen the time I can meditate, especially on the rest days, and I am seeing progress and I can focus longer throughout the lap and as I have done , my scores improved. “
Koepka charges as McIlroy trips
Koepka underwent knee surgery in March and suggested ahead of the tournament that he was six months into peak physical condition, which must be a scary thought for the rest of the field given some of the golf he has had. produced Friday.
The American did two eagles – at seven and 11 – for the first time in one of his one-major turns as he climbed to six cents before the bogeys at 15 and 17 caught up with him.
“Putting was difficult, if [the wind] going to blow so hard, it’s hard to make pars, ”he said. You know you’re going to be doing bogeys. ”
The four-time major champion was playing alongside McIlroy, who won the event the last time it was hosted on Kiawah Island in 2012 and may think he left several birdie chances on the course on Friday.
The Northern Irishman started the day three above par after another slow start to a major week, but struggled to get back to normal before the bogeys at 16 and 17.
The world number seven found himself in trouble again on the 18th and swirled back and forth to end the day he started after a round of 72 per level.
US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau took advantage of a productive opening nine to hit the three-under turn for the day, but two bogeys on the back nine left him one under overall.
Poulter slips after a quick start
Poulter’s tournament threatened to fall apart on day one as he dropped five shots in as many holes after a promising start to head to the second round with two more.
It was a similar story for the Englishman on Friday as he dropped four shots in his last six holes.
The 45-year-old, who has never won a major, pieced together a confident opening nine that included two birdies and an eagle in the seventh par-five.
When the world number 67 birdied back to back after the turn, he moved into one of Grace’s firsts and had six pennies for the day after 11 holes.
A bogey followed at 13 after a temperamental training and Poulter then hit his tee shot at par 3 14th to give up successive strokes.
Another bogey on the 16th par-five for 608 yards saw him come back to a sub and this was immediately followed by a drop shot to 17 after a wild tee shot and he eventually signed for a two under 70.
“I got off the 13th tee and there was a scoreboard in the distance, and it was ironic he said, ‘Ian Poulter, 6 under 12 and chasing a course record,” said Poulter.
“I just started laughing at myself, like who in the world would write that and put it on a board with the last five holes to play?” “
American Jordan Spieth, a career Grand Slam chaser, finished four over par while world number one Dustin Johnson was one shot out of the six-plus cup.
World number three Justin Thomas is also coming home after narrowly missing a bird putt on the last one while also posting a six over the total.