KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. — The morning belonged to Phil Mickelson, the afternoon to Louis Oosthuizen.
In between, several other fascinating storylines emerged on a compelling second-round Friday at the 103rd PGA Championship at Kiawah Island that has dished up a delicious weekend of golf ahead.
By the end of a wild day on Pete Dye’s diabolical Ocean Course, Mickelson and Oosthuizen ended up tied for the 36-hole lead at 5-under.
Oosthuizen, playing in the afternoon, shot a 4-under 68 and relinquished the lead when he carded his first and only bogey of the day on No. 18. Mickelson, playing in the morning wave of tee times, posted a 3-under 69 to get to 5-under.
Adding to the drama is the presence of Brooks Koepka, the 2018 and 2019 winner of the PGA Championship who had knee surgery in March. He shot a 1-under 71 Friday and is 4-under overall, just one shot out of the lead.
Oh yes, the reigning Masters champion, Hideki Matsuyama, is two shots off the lead at 3-under after shooting a second-round 68.
Oosthuizen called the round “probably up there with one of my best,’’ marred only by the bogey on the last.
Mickelson, who’s 26 days shy of his 51st birthday, was positively beaming after his round, energized to be in contention for his sixth career major title.
“I’m having a lot of fun,’’ he said. “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.’’
Mickelson, who won the 2005 PGA Championship at Baltusrol and is a five-time major championship winner, hasn’t had a top-10 finish in a major championship since his runner-up finish at the 2016 British Open. His tie for 18th at the 2019 Masters is the only top-20 finish he has in his past 16 majors.
A win would make Mickelson the oldest player ever to win a major championship, surpassing Julius Boros, who was 48 years and four months old when he won the 1968 PGA Championship.
“He’s really doing everything right,’’ Mickelson’s brother and caddie, Tim, said. “He’s been driving the ball well, his putting is good, his short game [is good]. He has had all the tools. Finally, everything sort of seems to be hitting on all cylinders right now.’’
Mickelson teased everyone two weeks ago when he posted a 7-under round on the first day of the Wells Fargo before fading in the final three rounds.
“He’s actually been playing really well the last three or four months, but he hasn’t scored very well,’’ Tim Mickelson said. “Obviously, he had a glimpse of it in Charlotte [at the Wells Fargo]. It’s a matter of staying patient and letting things happen. At a major championship you have to be patient [and] I see a patience from Phil, which is what you need to have at a major championship to win.”
The fans around Kiawah Island have been urging Mickelson on for two days.
“As much as the fans want it, I want it more for my brother,’’ Tim said. “I see how hard he works, not just at tournaments. When he’s home, he’s playing every day. I see how much he wants it, and I want to do anything I can to help him have that. You can’t win if you’re not in contention, so to have a chance with 36 holes to go, with a chance to win, obviously feels pretty good.’’
Beyond Mickelson, Oosthuizen, Koepka and Matsuyama, there are plenty of others with legitimate chances to win. Oosthuizen is joined by two fellow South Africans two shots back at 3-under — Branden Grace and Christiaan Bezuidenhout.
Among those at 2-under are former U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland, Paul Casey, Kevin Streelman and first-round leader Corey Conners, who followed his opening-round 67 with a 75 on Friday.
In all, 24 players are within five shots of the lead held by Mickelson and Oosthuizen.
“It’s kind of a leaderboard you wish for going into the weekend,’’ David Duval said on the Golf Channel broadcast, perfectly articulating what lies ahead in the next two days.
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