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Phil Mickelson leads heading into final round

KIAWAH ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA - MAY 22: Fans look on from a tree as Phil Mickelson of the United States plays his shot from the seventh tee during the third round of the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island Resort's Ocean Course on May 22, 2021 in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Fans look on from a tree as Phil Mickelson performs his shot from the seventh tee through the third round of the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Does Phil Mickelson have your consideration now?

Going into Saturday’s third round of the PGA Championship, Mickelson was not the betting favourite … regardless of holding a share of the lead.

He nonetheless wasn’t the betting favourite after he birdied the second gap to take sole possession of the lead, nor was he after he birdied the third to maneuver two pictures away from the sphere.

And now, as he heads into the final round with a 1-stroke lead over Brooks Koepka?

Still not the favourite.

Not you could blame the oddsmakers.

Koepka, the favourite, has received two of the final three of this stuff.

Mickelson, in the meantime, hasn’t received a PGA Tour occasion since 2019, hasn’t received a serious since 2013, and he’s as susceptible as anybody to throwing up a 70 in the future (as he did Saturday), 80 the following. And, oh yeah, he’s 50.

It was just a few months in the past he completed T-20, 11 strokes again in a Champions Tour occasion.

And but he’s not main this match as a result of the remainder of the sphere is flailing about. He’s main as a result of he’s taking cost.

He fired a 4-under 32 on his entrance 9 to construct a four-stroke lead. He was aggressive, inventive, sensible, daring and correct — all the very best of Phil Mickelson over time and not one of the worst.

Over an 18-hole stretch going again to his second 9 Friday, Mickelson was 10-under par. With par being 72, that equates to a 62 … which might be the bottom round ever recorded in any main championship.

In quick, he was as good as one might be on his entrance 9, and he was so on a course that doesn’t lend itself to perfection.

The query, after all, is the place did this come from? The approach he tells it, his focus over the previous few months has been on … focus — staying current on each shot. He says he is performed upward of 45 holes a day, difficult himself to keep up deal with each shot, in order that when he solely has to play 18, it might be like a batter taking off the load leaving the on-deck circle.

Still he needed to navigate the again 9 on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, which features a five-hole ending stretch that’s thought of by many to be the hardest in golf.

He began the again with a birdie at 10, pushing his result in a staggering 5 strokes.

And then …

A makeable birdie putt missed at 11 adopted by a bogey at 12 and a double at 13 after snap-hooking his tee shot into the water.

He went from staring down a putt for a six-stroke to result in having his lead trimmed to only 1 in a matter of three holes.

That is Kiawah.

The query rapidly grew to become: How would Mickelson reply heading into that brutal 5-hole stretch?

A brief miss for birdie at 14 stung. So did a mean method at 15 after a 327-yard drive. Then he put his tee shot at 16 underneath a golf cart. Missed one other makeable birdie putt at 17. And sprayed his method at 18 left, resulting in a difficult up and down that solely Phil Mickelson might make (which he did).

It wasn’t fairly, nevertheless it was par, par, par, par, par.

He wasn’t going to win the match over that stretch, however he might have misplaced it. And he did not.

He began the day at -5, tied for the lead, he ended it at -7, one stroke forward.

There are two methods to have a look at it: Phil Mickelson holds a slender lead going into the final round of the PGA Championship; or Phil Mickelson blew almost all of a 5-shot lead and now clings to a 1-shot edge. 

“I think that because I feel or believe that I’m playing really well and I have an opportunity to contend for a major championship on Sunday and I’m having so much fun that it’s easier to stay in the present and not get ahead of myself,” he mentioned after his round. 

Sunday, we shall be handled to an epic final pairing: Mickelson vs. Koepka — the second-best golfer of this era vs. the man making an attempt to catch him at 5 profession majors.

Past vs. current.

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