Only five men have achieved golfing immortality by winning each of the four majors and completing the coveted Grand Slam.

Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen stand alone among the pantheon of greats to have topped the leaderboard at The Open, the U.S. Open, the US PGA Championship and the Masters.

Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Walter Hagen are among the sport's legends to have accomplished three legs of the Slam – an impressive feat in itself.

Indeed, three active players are just one away and each is eyeing a different title. Rory McIlroy is missing a Masters, Jordan Spieth a PGA Championship and Phil Mickelson a U.S. Open.

For Mickelson, it is certainly not for want of trying – on six occasions he has finished second or tied second for a prize he so greatly craves.

It appeared as though his chances were waning as Father Time had seemingly caught up with a true great. But then, Mickelson upset all the odds to win a sixth career major and second PGA Championship at Kiawah Island last month at the age of 50, making him the oldest player to win a major tournament.

With renewed hope at finally claiming the missing piece of the puzzle, we assess the chances of Mickelson, Spieth and McIlroy in the race to complete the Grand Slam.

PHIL MICKELSON

In terms of a straight race, you could argue that 'Lefty' is in pole position merely because his opportunity is next up.

Moreover, Mickelson has history at Torrey Pines – hosting the U.S. Open for the second time having last done so in 2008 – a venue where he is a three-time winner, albeit the last of those was in 2001.

But that in itself is testament to Mickelson's astonishing longevity, and he made a mockery of suggestions his major-contending days were over at Kiawah Island.

Still, to mix it at that sort of level in the 50s (Mickelson turns 51 on Wednesday) on a regular basis is tough. Indeed, the unexpected triumph was his only top-10 finish on the PGA Tour this season, while he ranks down at 167th for scoring average.

While he does impressively still average over 300 yards off the tee (302.8), in terms of fairway accuracy Mickelson is down at 199th (51.16 per cent), and a putting average of 1.791 would need to be improved to contend.

All in all, you would be a fool to say Mickelson cannot complete the Slam but, speaking pragmatically, even accounting for his PGA Championship heroics, it will take a monumental effort to go back-to-back in the majors this weekend.

RORY MCILROY

A player of outrageous talent whose career in terms of majors has perhaps not quite hit the heights many tipped him to reach.

McIlroy has four to his name thus far, the last of which arrived at the 2014 US PGA Championship. At that stage, it appeared a question of how many he would win. 

It has been a decidedly mixed bag since at the majors, and there is no doubt winning a green jacket is a prize McIlroy would crave above all others in his career.

There have been plenty of close calls at Augusta, where he has six top-10 finishes, and that does not include the 2011 tournament where McIlroy led heading into the final round before enduring an excruciating Sunday that saw him finish way down in 15th.

Once upon a time it would have sounded unthinkable McIlroy would never win a Masters. It's not as clear cut now perhaps, but there are many opportunities left for a player still only 32 years of age.

McIlroy has endured inconsistent form this season, but was a recent winner at the Wells Fargo in a sign that things are slowly starting to click back into place.

His scoring average of 70.363 is the 31st best on the PGA Tour this season, while he ranks tied 14th for top-10 finishes (five).

Only Bryson DeChambeau averages longer off the tee than McIlroy's 318.6 yards but he is way down in 173rd for driving accuracy, while a putting average of 1.740 is something he will be keen to improve.

JORDAN SPIETH

One of the most pleasing aspects of recent months has been the resurgence of Spieth, who had slipped as low as 92nd in the world rankings having missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open earlier this year.

But eight top-10 finishes – including a win at the Valero Texas Open – has catapulted him back up to 23rd and many fancied him to complete the Slam at the PGA Championship.

Despite fleeting flashes of promise, Spieth could only finish down in 30th but crucially – much like McIlroy – time is on his side. Indeed, due to the early career success that has seen him become a three-time major victor, it is easy to forget he is only 27.

Prior to Mickelson's triumph last month, the smart money would have been on either McIlroy and Spieth to do the Slam first and perhaps it still is.

Indeed, Spieth probably remains a solid bet to deny Mickelson's own hopes this weekend. He is 21st for scoring average (70.178) and second only to Jon Rahm (10) for top-10 finishes with eight.

Not known as a particularly big hitter off the tee, Spieth is down at tied 83rd for driving distance (298.0) and 184th for driving accuracy but only nine players have a lower putting average than his 1.716.

VERDICT:

In terms of immediate chances then, yes, of course Mickelson has the edge. But logic suggests that it will need a monumental effort for him to repeat what he did at Kiawah Island at Torrey Pines. McIlroy and Spieth can, theoretically at least, continue to compete at the top for the best part of the next two decades. If they do, both have ample opportunity to secure the Grand Slam. As for who does it first…well given the Masters is closer than the PGA then let's go with McIlroy. Check again next April!

Former world number one Jordan Spieth said he would not be surprised if this week's US PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson had another major title in him.

Mickelson, 50, made history as the oldest major winner on Sunday when he triumphed at the US PGA Championship at Kiawah Island in South Carolina, claiming his sixth career major title.

The American's major victory in the twilight of his career was similar to golf greats Tiger Woods at the 2019 Masters and Jack Nicklaus at the 1986 Masters.

Spieth was full of praise for his childhood hero and long-time mentor, when speaking ahead of this week's Charles Schwab Challenge at the Colonial Country Club in Texas.

"It seems like all the great ones have that one left at the end," Spieth said.

"I know he'll probably tell you, he thinks he's got more than one left. I don't think anybody will doubt him after this one, but I think it's just wild. I think it's incredible."

The 27-year-old, who has won three major titles, said he watched on in awe as Mickelson triumphed on Sunday for his first major victory since 2013.

"I thought it would be very, very difficult," Spieth said. "He hadn't been in contention in quite a while on the PGA Tour against the guys he was in contention with.

"I know he's won many times on the Champions Tour… I think that might have been something that had been helpful for him as he's coming down the stretch.

"It's just so difficult to be in contention for the first time in a while and be able to tap into that confidence that you're supposed to be there and you're supposed to win."

Spieth's career skyrocketed after playing alongside Mickelson at the 2013 Deutsche Bank Championship where he shot a final-round 62. That round prompted Mickelson to call US Presidents Cup Captain Fred Couples to insist on calling up Spieth.

The Texan has long held an adoration for Mickelson, revealing he had got his prized signature in his youth. That adoration has been further reinforced by the recent fears of Mickelson, 23 years Spieth's senior.

"His streak of not being outside the top 50 in the world for however long, that is going to be a very difficult task for anybody going forward to match," Spieth said.

"Then to win a tournament, let alone a major championship, at 50 with how young and stacked the game has gotten is just an incredible feat.

"I think the way he handled Saturday and Sunday, when he did make mistakes - especially on the back nine on Saturday to then close that out and remain in the lead - it was typical Phil."

The old adage suggests life begins at 40, and in sports there have been several instances of stars celebrating glorious triumphs in the twilight of their career.

Phil Mickelson became the latest history maker on Sunday with a memorable US PGA Championship victory at the age of 50, making him the older male major winner of all time.

A two-shot victory over Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen made Mickelson a six-time major winner, and marked his first since he topped the leaderboard at The Open in 2013, aged 43.

But Mickelson is by no means the first sportsperson to prove that age is just a number. Here we remember some of the greatest achievements by those of advancing years (at least in sporting terms…).

BRADY BUCS THE TREND AT SUPER BOWL LV

When Tom Brady ended his lengthy association with the New England Patriots, some doubted whether he could emulate his unrivalled success at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Those people were wrong. Already the oldest quarterback to have won a Super Bowl ring with the Patriots two years prior, Brady's memorable triumph with the Bucs over the Kansas City Chiefs at Super Bowl LV back in February saw him become the oldest player to win a ring, aged 43.

HOPKINS PUNCHES TICKET INTO THE HISTORY BOOKS

Boxing has a long history of fighters continuing well into their later years, and often times they prove ill-advised decisions.

But Bernard Hopkins certainly does not fall into that category. The all-time great first became boxing's oldest ever world champion when he defeated Jean Pascal in May 2011 to win the WBC and IBO light-heavyweight titles aged 46.

Two years later, he broke his own record by toppling Tavoris Cloud to win the IBF strap, and then in April 2014 – at the age of 49 – defeated Beibut Shumenov to add the WBA's belt to his collection.
 
FANGIO FINDS THE FORMULA TO SUCCESS

Revered by many as the greatest Formula One driver of all time, Juan Manuel Fangio certainly has a record to stack up against the best.

The Argentinian had seven full seasons in F1 and was world champion five times with four different teams and runner-up twice, while there were 24 wins from 51 Grands Prix.

The last of his F1 title-winning seasons occurred in 1957 at the age of 46, making him the series' oldest champion of all time.

NOTHING IS ZOFF LIMITS FOR VETERAN DINO

Dino Zoff is not the oldest player to ever feature in a World Cup fixture, that honour belongs to Essam El Hadary, who was 45 when he played in Egypt's final group-stage match against Saudi Arabia in 2018.

But the Italy legend does hold the record as the oldest player to win the World Cup when he lifted the trophy aged 40 years, four months and 13 days in a 3-1 victory over West Germany in 1982 in front of a bumper crowd of 90,000 in Madrid.

ROSEWALL AND SERENA ARE ACE

Serena Williams and her sister Venus have made a mockery of Father Time in women's tennis over the past two decades, while Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have dominated the men's game in their 30s.

But still, greatness should still be recognised and the last of Serena's grand slam titles at the 2017 Australian Open (when she was eight weeks pregnant no less!) saw her become the oldest female slam winner of all time.

In the men's game, the honour does not belong the three aforementioned modern-day greats (though who would bet against one of them doing it one day?). That benchmark lies with Ken Rosewall, who was 37 years, two months and one day old when he won in Melbourne in 1972.

PHIL TOPPLES BOROS

In the context of Mickelson's triumph, it seems only fair to mention the man who previously held golf's major benchmark.

Julius Boros was 48 when he won the 1968 PGA Championship. Indeed, golf is a game where players can excel much later in their careers.

Tom Morris and Jack Nicklaus were both 46 when they won the last majors of their glittering careers at The Open and the Masters respectively.

Brooks Koepka's fitness was a topic of discussion prior to the US PGA Championship and while he secured a share of the runners-up cheque, the four-time major winner was "super disappointed" with his performance.

Koepka went head-to-head with Phil Mickelson, who came out on top by two strokes in a stunning display that saw the American veteran become the oldest major champion in golf history on Sunday.

A two-time PGA Championship winner, Koepka signed for a two-over-par 74 as he was unable to capitalise on Mickelson's final-round 73 in South Carolina.

Koepka's short game was his downfall – the 31-year-old ended with a double-bogey, four bogeys and four birdies to finish second alongside Louis Oosthuizen at Kiawah Island.

American star Koepka has been plagued by injuries since winning back-to-back PGA Championships in 2019 and a fourth major title in three years, undergoing knee surgery in March before missing the cut at last month's Masters but his title tilt did not mask his frustration.

"Just how bad I putted the last two days," Koepka said when asked what part of the result was hard to stomach. "Three days, actually. It felt like tap-ins I was missing. Never felt comfortable, and you're not going to win if you do that.

"The thing was, Phil played great. That whole stretch when we turned after four and five and played those holes, it's into off the left for me and that's quite difficult for a right-handed player. And it suited Phil right down to the ground, and I thought he played that entire stretch from about six to 13 so well. So you know, I'm happy for him... It's pretty cool to see, and you know, but a bit disappointed in myself."

"I'm super disappointed, pretty bummed," Koepka added. "I'm not happy. I don't know if there's a right word I can say on here without getting fined, but it hurts a little bit. It's one of those things where I just never felt comfortable over the putts. I don't know why, what happened.

"I spent all weekend, the weekend before working on it and it was great, and you know, just over did it. I was trying to get my hands a little lower and ended up getting my hands too far low one under and actually ended up getting further away from the ball. The last nine, I just tried to go back to what I've always done and I felt like I was hitting better putts. I just wish I would have done it sooner."

Oosthuizen – winner of the 2010 Open Championship – carded a one-over-par 73 to earn a share of second spot.

The South African recorded his best major performance since finishing tied for second at the PGA Championship in 2017.

"I feel like I'm playing my heart out to get a second major, and I do know I have the game to do it. This was close," said Oosthuizen.

"My game wasn't great on the weekend. It was better today than yesterday. So I just need to work harder on it to get myself in contention again."

Tiger Woods congratulated "truly inspirational" Phil Mickelson after the American made history at the US PGA Championship on Sunday.

Mickelson defied form and age to capture the PGA Championship in history-making fashion following his two-shot triumph over Louis Oosthuizen and Brooks Koepka.

Not since February 2019 had Mickelson won on the PGA Tour, while the 50-year-old's last major triumph came at the Open Championship in 2013.

But Mickelson became the oldest major champion in golf history in South Carolina, where he secured a sixth major title and 45th Tour trophy.

Watching from the sidelines as he continues to recover from February's single-car crash, 15-time major winner and famous foe Woods used social media to hail Mickelson.

Woods wrote via Twitter: "Truly inspirational to see @PhilMickelson do it again at 50 years of age. Congrats !!!!!!!."

After reigning supreme, Mickelson – who has enjoyed a great rivalry with Woods – said: "This is just an incredible feeling because I just believed that it was possible but yet everything was saying it wasn't.

"I hope that others find that inspiration. It might take a little extra work, a little bit harder effort, but gosh, is it worth it in the end."

Rory McIlroy acknowledged there is still plenty of room for improvement in his game after finishing off his work at the US PGA Championship with a final round of 72.

The world number seven came into the tournament with many fancying him to challenge, victory at the Wells Fargo Championship earlier in May suggesting he was returning to form at just the right time.

However, an opening 75 left him with work to do and he was never able to get into contention at Kiawah Island. A bogey at the 18th hole on Sunday saw him end on five over par, meaning the wait for a fifth major goes on.

For McIlroy, the key focus moving forward is finding greater consistency with his driver, having felt it has not been right "for a long time".

Asked to sum up his play on Sunday, he replied: "More of the same, very average.

"I couldn't really get anything going and it was a day where you had to get off to a fast start. The first few holes were playing a lot easier than they have done and I didn't do that, just sort of got stuck in neutral.

"I still have a way to go with everything. I just need to figure out a driver, as well. I just haven't driven the ball as well as I know that I can for a long time, and that's really the foundation of my game."

McIlroy won the US PGA Championship at the same venue in 2012, leading plenty to tip him to produce a repeat result nine years later, particularly coming after his recent success at Quail Hollow.

The man himself, however, was baffled at his status as favourite prior to the tournament, with his game "exposed" by the tricky conditions at the Ocean Course.

"I didn't understand those high expectations," he said. "It was good to win at Quail Hollow, a course that I've always played well on and am comfortable on.

"I didn't feel like playing well here nine years ago was going to automatically make me play well again, and I felt like coming in here there was still parts of my game that I needed to sharpen up, and obviously those parts were exposed this week in the wind and on a tough course."

Phil Mickelson remained on track to become golf's oldest major winner as he held a two-shot lead at the halfway stage of his final round at the US PGA Championship.  

The 50-year-old had ended Saturday's action at Kiawah Island with a one-stroke advantage over Brooks Koepka, who is seeking to win the tournament for a third time in four years.  

Mickelson's slender advantage disappeared with a three-putt bogey at the opening hole, setting the tone for an uneven front nine that saw him record just three pars but still reach seven under.  

The undoubted highlight was a wonderful chip from a tricky greenside bunker by the fifth green that found the cup, delighting a crowd that sensed they could be witnessing history in the making. 

Playing partner Koepka also had his struggles, following up an opening birdie with a double-bogey seven at the second. He sat at five under through nine, the same score as Louis Oosthuizen. 

Abraham Ancer had shown how it was possible to go low on Sunday, carding the best round of the week with a blemish-free 65 that owed much to a fast start.  

The Mexican birdied four of his opening six holes before picking up a further shot prior to the turn, seeing him go out in 31 strokes. While he cooled off on the way back in, it was still an impressive display.  

While his charge came too late to mount a challenge for the tournament, Ancer feels his superb score is a further sign of how he is getting close to making a major breakthrough in his career.  

"I usually like golf courses that are going to be tough, it's not just going to be a birdie-fest and you have to grind it out and have to hit the ball well where you are supposed to," he told Sky Sports.  

"It's not that I don't care about other events, I try to think about every event the same and try to win every time, but I do feel my game is better for golf courses that are tougher." 

Phil Mickelson's dream week at the US PGA Championship continued Saturday, putting him in position to become golf's oldest major championship winner. 

The 50-year-old survived early on the back nine to shoot 70 and hold a one-stroke lead over Brooks Koepka at seven under par for the tournament. 

He knows he does not have many chances left to collect his sixth major title, but he said he's trying to keep his focus on his game rather than thinking about the big-picture implications. 

"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," Mickelson told reporters. 

Mickelson opened a gap on the field early on moving day with birdies on four of his first seven holes, then another at the 10th. 

"I felt I had a very clear picture on every shot, and I've been swinging the club well, and so I was executing," he said of that stretch. "I just need to keep that picture a few more times."

The picture got a bit fuzzy at 12 and 13, where Mickelson went bogey-double bogey. 

He said his focus slipped on those two holes. 

"It's just an example of losing the feel and the picture of the shot, and I get a little bit jumpy, a little bit fast from the top, and it just -- when that happens I get narrow and I end up flipping it," he said. 

"So those two swings were more a product of not staying or keeping the feel and the focus of the shot. And so that's just a small little thing that I need to iron out."

Mickelson finished the round with five consecutive pars to ensure his place atop the leaderboard heading into Sunday. 

His remarkable week has put him in position to surpass Julius Boros, who won the 1968 PGA at age 48, as the oldest major winner, but Mickelson was in no mood to ponder what he already had accomplished just by getting this far. 

"I'm more focused on a few things that I need to work on tonight before tomorrow's round, and I'm not really dwelling back on what took place today," he said. 

"I just know I'm having a lot of fun and I'm very appreciative of the way the people have been supportive."

Brooks Koepka is exactly where he expects to be heading into the final round of a major, particularly the US PGA Championship. 

After carding a two-under-par 70 on Saturday, Koepka sits one stroke back of leader Phil Mickelson at six under for the tournament, putting him in position to win his fifth major championship. 

Considering Koepka has been no worse than tied for fourth after 12 of the last 13 rounds at the PGA, his spot in Sunday's final pairing is familiar territory. 

"It just feels good, feels normal," Koepka told reporters after his round. 

"It's what you're supposed to do, what you practice for.

"I'm right where I want to be, and we'll see how tomorrow goes.

"Just be within three of the lead going into the back nine and you've got a chance."

Koepka trailed Mickelson by five strokes at one point Saturday but saw the five-time major winner slide back to him on the back nine. 

A bogey on 18 denied Koepka a chance to match Mickelson at seven under, but the 2018 and 2019 PGA winner is looking forward to a potential one-on-one showdown in the final round. 

"I can see what he's doing, and everybody else is in front of me, so I'll have a good idea on the leaderboard what's going on and just need to putt better -- simple," Koepka said.

"If I strike it anything like I did the last three days, I'll have a chance."

If he can pull it off, Koepka would become the first player to win the same major three times in a four-year stretch since Tom Watson captured the Open Championship title in 1980, 1982 and 1983.

Though the wind that had made scoring difficult at Kiawah Island's Ocean Course the first two days died down a bit Saturday, Koepka anticipates a challenging final round. 

"it's a tough golf course," he said. "I thought it definitely played easier for sure, but this golf course you can make one little mistake and it can be costly.

"That's why it's a major championship. I think this place is perfect for it, and it will be fun to watch tomorrow."

Phil Mickelson and Brooks Koepka both shot 70 Saturday to set up a mouth-watering final pairing at the US PGA Championship. 

At seven under par for the tournament, Mickelson holds a one-stroke lead over his countryman entering the final round at Kiawah Island's Ocean Course after saving par on 18 while Koepka bogeyed the last. 

The 50-year-old Mickelson is the fourth player aged 50 or older to lead a major after three rounds in the modern era, which began in 1934. 

The others were Tom Watson at the 2009 Open Championship, Greg Norman at the 2008 Open, and Julius Boros at the 1973 US Open -- none of whom ended up holding on for the win. 

Mickelson has been resilient this week in South Carolina, though, steadying himself Saturday after going bogey-double bogey on 12 and 13 to make par on the final five holes. 

While Mickelson's resurgence has excited the fans, Koepka remains a model of consistency at the PGA.

He has finished at least tied for fourth in 12 of the last 13 rounds at the major, and he could become the first player to win the same major three times in a four-year stretch since Watson won the Open in 1980, 1982 and 1983.

Mickelson will be shooting for his sixth major title and first since the 2013 Open, while Koepka seeks his fifth. 

Louis Oosthuizen, who shared the lead with Mickelson entering play Saturday, managed just three birdies on the day on the way to an even-par 72 that left him five under for the tournament. 

American Kevin Streelman (70) is at four under, while Oosthuizen's South African countrymen Branden Grace and Christiaan Bezuidenhout are at three under after even-par rounds of their own. 

Bryson DeChambeau (71) was unable to gain ground on the leaders and enters Sunday five back of Mickelson along with Gary Woodland (72) and Joaquin Niemann (71). 

Jordan Spieth matched Billy Horschel for the low round of the day with a 68, and he sits at even par for the tournament along with Rickie Fowler (69) and Keegan Bradley (72).

Reigning Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama fell from contention with a 76, putting him at one over with the likes of Shane Lowry (73), Padraig Harrington (73) and Ian Poulter (73). 

Phil Mickelson reached the turn at Kiawah Island's Ocean Course four shots clear of his nearest US PGA Championship rivals, before sinking a birdie on the 10th.

Mickelson – a PGA championship winner in 2005 – was in sensational form in South Carolina over the first two days and carried the same level of performance into Saturday's play.

He was four under through the first eight holes, though did make his first mistake of the day on the ninth, dropping his drive short and left of the green, but recovered to make par.

That had him on 32 through nine, with Louis Oosthuizen, tied for second on five under, going through in 36.

Tied with Oosthuizen were Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama and Branden Grace, while Brooks Koepka was at four under when reaching the turn, but nosed himself up to T2 with a 12-foot putt.

But the chasing pack were further behind when Mickelson rolled a birdie putt in on the 10th to move to 10 under.

Phil Mickelson and Louis Oosthuizen topped a leaderboard filled with major winners at the US PGA Championship, setting up a fascinating weekend at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island. 

Mickelson started early and roared to the finish, carding five birdies on the back nine on the way to a 69 that left him at five under par for the tournament before Oosthuizen shot 68 in the afternoon for a share of the overall lead. 

Two-time US PGA winner Brooks Koepka (71) was one stroke back after recording a pair of eagles on Friday, followed by 2021 Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama (68) at three under. 

Oosthuizen's fellow South Africans Branden Grace (71) and Christiaan Bezuidenhout (70) also were two back of the leaders. 

First-round leader Corey Conners (75) and 2019 U.S. Open winner Gary Woodland (72) were at two under, with reigning U.S. open champion Bryson DeChambeau (71) dropping back to one under after a bogey on 18. 

Players battled windy conditions throughout the day and had an especially difficult time with the last two holes.

Oosthuizen lost his chance to stand alone atop the leaderboard with a bogey on 18 that ensured no one would post a bogey-free round on the first two days of competition, while Grace dropped three strokes on 17 and 18 to mar an otherwise stellar round.

Rory McIlroy (72) saw a move for contention disintegrate with bogeys on the final three holes that left him eight back of the leaders entering Saturday, and Jordan Spieth (75) was in the same spot after bogeys at 17 and 18.

The four-time major champion Koepka had perhaps the most erratic day of any contender, carding just one birdie to go with his eagles at the seventh and 11th and four bogeys. 

Among the notables missing the five-over cut line by one stroke were Dustin Johnson (74), Sergio Garcia (73), Adam Scott (72) and Justin Thomas.

Former major winners also missing out on the weekend include Zach Johnson (78), Jason Dufner (81), Martin Kaymer (77), Rich Beem (77), Charl Schwartzel (79) and John Daly (86). 

The 2009 US PGA Championship winner, Y.E. Yang, was disqualified after signing an incorrect scorecard but would have missed the cut anyway. 

Phil Mickelson played himself right into contention to become the oldest major champion in history after taking the clubhouse lead on day two of the US PGA Championship.

The 50-year-old looked in good shape in his first round on Thursday and he went a step further on Friday, finding himself top of the leaderboard having gone around the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island in 69.

It meant the American was on five under for the tournament, and he was leading by two shots shortly after he had finished for the day.

For much of Friday it looked as though Branden Grace was going to be in charge, the South African sitting pretty at six under for the tournament as he stepped up to the tee on the 17th.

But he finished his round with a double-bogey and a bogey as the breezy conditions took their toll on the two holes regarded as the toughest on the entire course, meaning he walked off after his final hole three under for the tournament.

Mickelson had similar issues on the same two holes earlier in the day after starting on the 10th, though the five-time major winner only dropped two shots across the 17th and 18th – it clearly was not enough of a wobble to really impact his mood.

The 2005 US PGA Championship winner has not had a single top-10 finish on the PGA Tour this season, but he has a great chance to end that here.

Opening up on his brilliant start at Kiawah Island, he said: "Physically I've felt as good as ever, I've been able to perform to play the shots, but I haven't been able to be as present or sharp mentally to visualise the shots I want to play.

"Meditation has been a big part of me being able to play the shots I want. It's gotten more difficult as I've got older to focus. Your mind is like a muscle, you have to exercise.

"That's what I've been doing, some days playing [as many as] 40-45 holes to make sure I can concentrate longer than just 18."

Mickelson carded five birdies after the turn, playing a huge role in putting him into contention to surpass Julius Boros as the oldest ever major winner at 48 in 1968.

Additionally, he is the first man aged 50 or over to be in top-five contention after 36 holes at a major since 2013.

His form here is made all the more remarkable by the fact he needed a special exemption to even qualify for next month's US Open, given his current ranking of 115.

"I'm having a lot of fun," he added. "To play well, to know I'm playing well heading into the weekend, to be in contention, to have a good opportunity, I'm having a blast. I'm excited for the weekend."

Ian Poulter looked to be putting himself into contention as well only to fall apart in the latter stages of his round, carding four bogeys in his final five holes – he was previously six under for the day.

Similarly, overnight leader Corey Conners' dropped down to two under for the tournament thanks to a difficult three-over second round.

Meanwhile, world number one Dustin Johnson will almost certainly not be returning on Saturday as he followed up a shocking first day with comparatively poor two over on Friday, leaving him on six over.

Jordan Spieth faces a nervy wait, he sits at four over following a second-round 75.

Brooks Koepka dismissed concerns over his knee, insisting he does not have to be "100 per cent" after impressing on day one of the US PGA Championship.

Koepka ended the opening round two strokes behind leader Corey Conners and tied for second position following his three-under-par 69 on Thursday.

American star Koepka has been plagued by injuries since winning back-to-back PGA Championships in 2019 and a fourth major title in three years, undergoing knee surgery in March before missing the cut at last month's Masters.

Koepka overcame a slow start after double-bogeying his opening hole in windy conditions as he made history in South Carolina.

The four-time major champion has opened the PGA Championship with a score in the 60s in each of the last six years, the longest such streak at any major in the modern era (since 1934), eclipsing Jack Nicklaus (five – 1972-1976 Masters).

"It's a major. I'm going to show up," Koepka said when asked about his fitness and whether it was the best he has felt since returning from injury. "I'm ready to play. I've been itching to do this since Augusta.

"I mean, I feel so much better now. I don't need to be a hundred percent to be able to play good."

"I love it when it's difficult," said Koepka. "I think that's why I do so well in the majors. I just know mentally I can grind it out. Like when it's windy like this, it's not so much putting, it's more about ball striking, and I felt like I struck it really well today. I feel like that's why I've done really well.

"You've got to understand that sometimes par is a good score. You've got to understand that 30, 35 feet is a great shot sometimes, and you've just got to accept it and move on."

Defending champion Collin Morikawa closed out day one a shot further back at two under.

Morikawa mixed five birdies with three bogeys to end the round three strokes off the pace at Kiawah Island Golf Resort.

He played alongside big-hitting Bryson DeChambeau (72) and praised the reigning U.S. Open champion.  

"I think people need to give him credit, starting today, that he's actually picking up the pace," Morikawa said. "It was amazing how fast he actually played. I'm not going to say fast, but he wasn't slow. You weren't just waiting on him to figure out whatever.

"Kudos to him because it was windy and he had to figure out some stuff for sure. But I enjoy it. He's a character. He's his own person. That's what makes Bryson, Bryson. I think that's why people love him. I enjoy playing with someone like that. It's not going to faze me that he hits it a hundred past me. I know I can still hit it and play golf."

DeChambeau, who heads into the second round tied for 31st, added: "The wind just kicked my butt. It's hot. Just grinding out there, it takes a lot out of you. Working really, really hard to hit every shot the exact way I want to, and then it doesn't happen, and you've got to be comfortable with it and going, okay, how do I get up-and-down.

"It's windy and you're over a four-footer. Wind is blowing really hard, and you think it's going to break. When the wind stops, it's not going to break. It's all just a really difficult thing that you've got to control out there. It's a lot of work."

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