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Phil Mickelson clings to 1-stroke lead in PGA Championship

Phil Mickelson during practice round for 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island's Ocean Course
Phil Mickelson opens a 4-stroke lead midway through the 3rd round of the PGA Championship on Saturday at Kiawah Island (S.C.) Resort’s Ocean Course.

With a victory Sunday, Mickelson would become oldest major champion in history, but Brooks Koepka stands in the way

Phil Mickelson is one round away from history at the PGA Championship.

Mickelson shot 2-under 70 on Saturday afternoon at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course to open a one-stroke lead entering Sunday's final round. With a victory, Mickelson, who will turn 51 on June 16, would be golf's oldest major-championship winner.

Mickelson stands at 7-under 209 through 54 holes, one stroke ahead of Brooks Koepka.

Mickelson, who held a share of the lead after 36 holes, had threatened to run away from the field midway through his third round. After playing the front nine in a bogey-free 4-under 32 to go up by four strokes, he holed a 7-foot birdie putt at the par-4 10th to stretch his lead to five. However, he came back to the field with a thud with a bogey at the par-4 12th and a double bogey at the par-4 13th, after hooking his tee shot into water left, trimming his lead to one stroke. Meanwhile, Koepka was catching fire one group ahead. He made birdies at 10, 12 and 16, the latter of which gave him a share of the lead with Mickelson. However, his approach at the par-4 18th ran through the green, and he failed to save par, ending at 2-under 70 and 6 under for the tournament.

Koepka, 31, has endured a rocky season as he has struggled with knee pain. He won the Phoenix Open early and tied for second at the WGC Workday, but he entered the PGA after two consecutive missed cuts, at the Masters and the Byron Nelson.

"I drove it really well, compared to what I did the first two days, so I got that fixed," said Koepka, who pointed toward a poor putting day. "My speed is so off."

Mickelson began the day tied with playing competitor Louis Oosthuizen for the tournament lead at 5 under. Oosthuizen shot 72 and will start the final round in solo third place, two strokes behind Mickelson and one behind Koepka.

Mickelson, whose 44 PGA Tour victories ranks ninth all-time, has won five major championships, including the 2005 PGA.

Jordan Spieth, who lacks only the PGA’s Wanamaker Trophy to complete the career Grand Slam, shot 4-under 68 to shoot up the leaderboard into a tie for 13th, seven strokes behind Mickelson.

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, a four-time major champion who won the 2012 PGA at Kiawah, has not broken par in any of his three rounds this week. He shot 74 and stood 5 over through 54 holes.

Among the two club professionals who qualified for the weekend, Ben Cook made one of the biggest moves up the leaderboard of the third round. Despite a bogey on the final hole, Cook shot 3-under 69 and got to 2 over for the tournament. Cook, 27, the director of instruction at Yankee Springs Golf Course in Wayland, Mich., also coaches at John’s Island Golf Club in Vero Beach, Fla. Brad Marek, derailed by a quintuple-bogey 8 at the 17th hole, shot 78 and slid to 8 over for the tournament. Marek, 37, is a teaching pro at Corica Park Golf Course in Alameda, Calif.

(For third-round scores, click here.)

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