Full leaderboard Third spherical tee occasions Padraig Harrington had seen sufficient. After watching enjoying accomplice Phil Mickelson rolling again the years while rolling within the putts within the first two rounds of the 103rd US PGA Championship right here, Europe’s Ryder Cup captain was prepared to name historical past. “In the position Phil is, I expect him to contend and I wouldn’t put it past him being there on top at the end of the weekend,” Harrington stated. “He has the bit between his teeth and believes he can do it in these conditions. You know what? Even second would now be a disappointment for Phil.” Mickelson is 51 subsequent month and if Harrington’s prediction comes to cross, nice chunks of golf’s folklore would want rewriting, most notably that he would smash Julius Boros’s document of oldest ever major-winner by greater than two years. Lefty would march into subsequent month’s US Open along with his profession grand slam dream re-invigorated, having made a mockery of the US Golf Association particular exemption it felt obliged to problem final week. Box workplace Phil makes followers dream with surprising cost Yet greater than any of this, it could give hope to written-off veterans in every single place and act as a bugle name for these with ear-trumpets throughout the globe. The historic recreation would by no means be fairly the identical once more. Of course, these are nonetheless early days on this, at occasions, excruciating marathon and on The Ocean Course – offering some of the all-round demanding main checks that golf has ever witnessed – it’s plainly silly to venture ahead even a number of holes by no means thoughts a number of days. Especially when the leaderboard is that this congested. On five-under, Mickelson shares the lead with South African Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open Champion, one away from Brooks Koepka in third with final month’s Masters hero, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama sharing fourth with Oosthuizen’s countrymen, Branden Grace and Christiaan Bezuidenhout on three-under. In all there are 25 inside 5 photographs of the midway tempo and these additionally embrace reigning US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau on one-under and the defending US PGA Collin Morikawa on degree par, alongside reigning Open champion Shane Lowry. And Britain occurs to be promisingly represented on this high-quality logjam. Paul Casey, final yr’s runner-up, is on two-under and Martin Laird is on one-under, with Matt Fitzpatrick and Ian Poulter just one additional again. Alas, Rory Mcilroy isn’t in that quantity and the 2012 Kiawah champion palpably must be. The Northern Irishman bogeyed the final three holes, which is not any shame when the wind is blowing into the face, however was nonetheless an enormous setback after his sterling work to bounce again from that opening 75. The vital issue has been his gross ineptitude on the par fives for which he’s three-over, 9 worse than Mickelson. You don’t require DeChambeau’s mind to spot the shortfall for McIlroy, a participant who has stacked up hundreds of thousands from devouring the kong holes. “That’s been the big thing,” McIlroy stated. “If I’d have performed these higher, I’d have been proper up there, however making 5 bogeys on the par fives isn’t going to get it finished. After a 72, McIlroy is eight in arrears however is aware of he’s able to making the required inroads on Saturday to launch a problem for his main triumph in seven years. Except this doesn’t appear anyplace to be chasing, with hazard lurking on each gap for the over daring. Mickelson’s miraculous restoration recreation allied to his nous may nicely show invaluable. As world No 1 Dustin Johnson, was lacking the reduce, crashing out on six-over after a 76 and as high quality ball-strikers resembling Sergio Garcia and Tommy Fleetwood had been additionally within the exodus off this barrier island – later to be joined by world Nos 2 and 4, Justin Thomas and Xander Schauffele – so Mickelson utilised his expertise to survive the worst intentions of Pete Dye’s depraved creation. And because the spray got here off the Atlantic, Harrington recognised that aggressive life remains to be left within the salty previous sea canine but. “Phil finds it easier to compete on this style of course in these conditions,” Harrington stated, bemoaning his personal late collapse that took him to a 73, however certainly not out of the body on degree par. “It suits somebody who is a ‘player’, somebody who is thinking. Each day Phil has started badly and has bounced back and played his next nine in five-under. No panic.” Mickelson really negotiated the inward half in four-under on Thursday, however as that’s the tougher 9, Harrington will be forgiven for enhancing its standing. Starting on the tenth on Friday, Mickelson was three-over by the point he reached the primary tee, however then reeled off a quintet of pink numbers, together with a luxurious iron from 195 yards to three toes on the fourth. Yet it was the ultimate two holes that greatest summed up his defiant efforts. On the par-three eighth, his ball unluckily veered off the inexperienced and he audibly complained about feeling rushed after his group had been placed on the referee’s clock. No matter, Mickelson carried out considered one of his beautiful par-saving chips and all there was left was to gap a 20-footer for birdie on the ninth, enact a type of quick however expressive fist-pumps and the crowds – restricted to 10,000 right here, however nonetheless extraordinarily enthusiastic – had been fanatically is his nook as soon as extra. “It was fun to finish like that and to have that type of support is special,” he stated, trademark grin beaming at its brightest. “I had to be patient, but I was able to make a few birdies.” As Mickelson was speaking, he was knowledgeable that Grace had double-bogeyed the seventeenth and that he was the outright chief. “Sir, if you were to tell me that like on Sunday night, I’d really enjoy it, but right now there’s a lot of work to do,” Mickelson stated. “I’m just happy to be going into the weekend with an opportunity.” Indeed, the very fact he’s within the ultimate group appears fantastical sufficient. Without a single top-20 end on the PGA Tour in 9 months, or a high 10 within the majors in nearly 5 years, Mickelson has fallen to his lowest rating in additional than three a long time. There have been two wins on the US Seniors Tour since he turned 50, however that has solely made it but extra easy to herald the ultimate whistle on a garlanded profession. What Phil The Thrill would give to silence that shrill. The title of the sport is survival and there may be absolutely no extra acceptable format to show that it’s all about being the final man standing. How robust is the Ocean Course? Well, contemplate Poulter’s destiny. Third right here behind McIlroy in 2012, the 45-year-old gallantly superior to four-under with 4 birdies and an eagle in his first 11 holes, however then his cost was cruelly arrested with 4 bogeys down the brutal, wind-against stretch. Yet Poulter was uncharacteristically not all that disheartened. “I got on to the 13th and there was a scoreboard and it was ironic, – ‘Ian Poulter is six-under for the day through 12 holes and is chasing down the course-record 65’,” he stated. “I just started laughing to myself. Who in the world would write that with those last five holes to play?” Poulter was right; a 70 on this extreme examination is commendable no matter how it’s compiled. Close sufficient, if robust sufficient and astute sufficient.