Russell Henley took the early lead at the U.S. Open, with former world number one Brooks Koepka not far behind, though Phil Mickelson struggled.

Henley shot an impressive four-under-par 67 at Torrey Pines on Thursday to head back in the clubhouse with a one-shot lead over Francesco Molinari and Rafa Cabrera Bello.

Heading in at fourth was four-time major winner Koepka, the 2017 and 2018 U.S. Open champion going round in 69 on the opening day.

Koepka has been involved in one of the big stories in the build-up to the major amid his feud with defending champion Bryson DeChambeau making headlines, albeit the latter dismissed it as "banter back and forth in good fun."

With DeChambeau teeing off later in the day, Koepka set the standard with four birdies in his first 11 holes taking him into a solo lead.

However, two bogeys meant he had to recover with two pars to finish on two under, giving Henley the early advantage.

Ahead of Koepka, Molinari – who has fallen outside the top 150 in the world rankings – was back to his best, with his brother Edoardo just two shots behind on one under.

There was no such luck for six-time major champion and American star Mickelson, whose chances of claiming this elusive tournament look slim.

Mickelson became the oldest major winner when he clinched the US PGA Championship last month, but shot a four-over 75, which included successive bogeys.

Another former US PGA Championship winner to struggle was Collin Morikawa, who also finished on four over.

"It's not the start I wanted, bogeying every par-three, and I think I had like three three-putts today. It's not acceptable," he said.

"It's not how you keep yourself in a tournament on a Thursday. You know what, this course is going to play tough, and still got at least tomorrow to just grind it out and see how it goes. I had some stretches of decent golf, I've just got to keep doing that and really not compound the errors."

Tiger Woods began his U.S. Open bid with a double bogey in 2008 at Torrey Pines – "a terrible start", said the man who four days later took the title in a sudden-death play-off, after he and Rocco Mediate could not be separated in a two-man fifth round.

The 18-hole play-off scenario is now history, so there will no repeat of such a marathon effort as the major returns after 13 years to the San Diego course this week, and there will be no Woods either.

That 2008 triumph was a 14th major for the American, yet he had to wait another 11 years until the 15th arrived, the man who once seemed booked in to take the major titles record away from Jack Nicklaus having seen perceptions of his life switch from fairy tale to soap opera.

Woods in 2008 was privately fighting the pain of a double stress fracture of his left tibia that he kept under wraps. Yes, he won the U.S. Open with a broken leg.

Whoever lifts the trophy this Sunday is unlikely to have to overcome the tribulations that faced Woods across that long weekend, and the superstar's absence is sure to be felt ... until the first round begins to take shape and a new narrative plays out.

Back in 2008, tournament organisers upped the intrigue by grouping Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott – the world number one, two and three – together for the opening two rounds.

Local favourite Mickelson recalls the moment when Woods fluffed his opening hole.

"I thought that was pretty inspiring the way he didn't let that affect him," Mickelson said this week. "He stayed to his game plan, stayed focused, stayed patient, and ended up kind of picking his spots where he could get a shot back here or there, and he did, and he ended up winning. That's impressive."

After completing his opening round, Woods said his mindset after shooting six at the first was to "just be patient, long way to go", and he finished one over par.

By the end of day two, Woods stood tied for second place, with Mickelson and Scott in a group sharing 35th position.

"The atmosphere for the whole 36 holes that I played with Phil and Tiger was incredible," Scott recalled earlier this year. "But Thursday morning the energy around the first hole was like I can't compare it to anything else actually.

"It was not even like teeing off at the Masters or anything like that. The build-up ... Tiger obviously being Tiger and Phil, the local hero, one, two and three in the world, of course I was like the third wheel hanging off the back, but it was really fun to be a part of that."

Of course Woods is a once-a-generation talent, but should anyone make a similarly poor start this week, it would be wise to take the blow on the chin and move on.

This course, the long-time home of the annual Farmers Insurance Open, should reward a steady temperament.

Mickelson, fresh from his shock victory last month at the US PGA Championship, where he became the oldest winner of a major, described the Torrey Pines greens on Monday as "very challenging".

"There's a lot of pitch, a lot of contour, and as they get firmer, they're significantly firmer than just the last two days," he said.

"It's very difficult to get it to some of the pin positions, and it's going to be a difficult test. As long as it is at sea level it's going to be a difficult task, but it seems like the set-up is pristine, and it's going to be a fun, very difficult challenge."

 

WHO WILL WIN THIS TIME?

With Woods out of the picture, recovering from the car crash he was said to have been fortunate to survive in February, there will be no repeat of his famous success 13 years ago.

Woods has won the Farmers Insurance Open a record seven times too, so he would have been relishing this week. Brandt Snedeker and Jason Day are both two-time winners of that tournament, and Mickelson has been champion three times, but not since 2001.

Mickelson is seeking the trophy that would give him a career grand slam, but it seems fanciful to expect him to challenge, having rarely been a factor in the majors in recent years until his unexpected win at Kiawah Island.

Stats Perform has taken a combination of factors to build a list of potential contenders, assessing past performance at the Farmers Insurance Open but also weighting displays in majors and recent PGA Tour form.

These scores are built around performance at Torrey Pines from 2016 to this year.

In the calculations, top-10 finishers at the 2021 Farmers Insurance Open receive points on a scale from 15 for the champion down to six points for 10th place. This decreases on a year-by-year sliding scale to 10 points for the 2016 tournament winner and one point for 10th place in that event.

There is also two points awarded per top-10 finish on the PGA Tour in the 2021 season, and substantial points availability for recent major success (10 points per major title in 2020 and 2021, 8pts in 2019, 6pts in 2018, 4pts in 2017, 2pts in 2016).

Not all players in the U.S. Open field have played the Farmers Insurance Open each year, and some are rarely active, if at all, on the PGA Tour, but this may give an inkling of the players who could come into contention at the year's third major.

TONY FINAU, 52 points: Finau followed up three top-10 results at the Farmers (2017, 2018, 2020) by finishing a joint runner-up in 2021, pointing to a clear liking for the course. How he enjoys it later in the year than he usually encounters Torrey Pines remains to be seen. Finau also has seven top-10 finishes of tour in the 2021 season.

JON RAHM, 52 points: His first major title is arguably overdue, given his talent and week-by-week results. Rahm was Farmers champion in 2017 and runner-up in 2020, also finishing top 10 in 2019 and 2021. He has a tour-leading 10 top-10 finishes this season, and would surely have had a win at the Memorial Tournament earlier this month before a positive COVID-19 test ended his title charge after 54 holes.

PATRICK REED, 42pts: This year's champion at the Farmers Insurance Open, Reed was also top six there in 2020, has had six top-10 results on tour this season and landed a Masters title in his not-too-distant past.

RYAN PALMER, 33pts: Palmer tied for second earlier this year at Torrey Pines, just as he did in 2018. Those performances and his four top-10 finishes on tour this year make him perhaps the surprise name on this list.

BROOKS KOEPKA, 32pts: Koepka missed the cut this year at the Farmers and did the same in 2017, and he did not play the tournament in the intervening years. Although Koepka has little left to prove in a wider sense – his mountain of points here is accrued through past major wins and a healthy batch of top-10s this season – he has yet to master Torrey Pines. Koepka has also missed the cut at three of his most recent four tournaments this year.

RORY MCILROY, 31pts: Top-five finishes at the Farmers in 2019 and 2020 augur well for McIlroy, and his five top-10 finishes on tour this season is a tally he will aim to add to over the coming days. It may be asking a lot to expect him to carry off the title, but another high placing would seem realistic.

Next on the list: Justin Rose (30pts), Brandt Snedeker (29), Viktor Hovland (26), Xander Schauffele (26), Jason Day (25), Marc Leishman (25), Hideki Matsuyama (25) and Keegan Bradley (24).

Dustin Johnson double bogeyed the last to sit second and two strokes behind leader Chesson Hadley after the second day at the Palmetto Championship in South Carolina on Friday.

Play was suspended late on Friday due to inclement weather but world number one Johnson finished his round with a three-under 68 to remain firmly in contention after his opening day 65 at Congaree Golf Club.

Johnson shot four birdies in six holes on his back nine, grabbing a share of the lead with Hadley, before dropping two on the 18th.

The American started strongly on Friday, birdieing his opening two holes, and appeared in ominous form, driving within 20 feet on the 344-yard par four 15th.

Johnson had been part of a four-man pack tied for second following the opening day, along with 33-year-old Hadley who carded a five-under 66 on Friday, backing up his 65 on Thursday.

Hadley, who had missed five straight cuts entering the Palmetto Championship, bogeyed the second but responded with four birdies from his next five holes.

"I definitely didn't see this coming," Hadley said. "I missed all those cuts in a row, and thank goodness I had three weeks off just to kind of hit the reset switch, get out on the boat, and just kind of forget about some things and spend some time with some family."

The unheralded American leads with 11-under, two strokes ahead of Johnson, with Tain Lee in third at eight-under.

The weather prevented Lee from finishing his second round, getting through 16 at four-under.

American Pat Perez and Irishman Seamus Power both carded five-under 66s to move up the leaderboard into a share of fourth spot. They join Harris English, Chez Reavie and Erik van Rooyen in equal fourth at six-under.

Overnight leader Wes Roach had a nightmare second day, starting with four bogeys from his first five holes, to finish with a six-over 77 to slide way down the leaderboard.

Brooks Koepka shot a second-round 73 to sit three-over and appears likely to miss the cut, which is not yet confirmed given play was suspended.

Wes Roach recorded a career first after earning a one-stroke lead following the opening round of the Palmetto Championship at Congaree.

Roach carded a seven-under-par to set the early pace at the inaugural PGA Tour tournament in Gillisonville, South Carolina on Thursday.

The unheralded American golfer, who finished with an eagle, six birdies and a bogey, claimed his first lead/co-lead in his 88th Tour start.

World number one Dustin Johnson is tied for second alongside Doc Redman, Chesson Hadley and Erik van Rooyen.

Johnson, who missed the cut in two of his last four starts – including the US PGA Championship, opened with a 65 – his lowest first-round score on the PGA Tour since he won the 2020 Masters with an opening-round 65.

"I mean, you know, I'm playing well," 24-time Tour champion Johnson said. "I feel like I've been playing pretty good all year, just, like I said, I haven't putted well, short game's been a little off, but today I missed it in the right spots when I did miss it, but hit a lot of real quality iron shots and gave myself a lot of looks."

South African Van Rooyen recorded his lowest score on the PGA TOUR this season.

Van Rooyen entered the week with missed cuts in each of his last four starts on Tour, most recently carding scores of 72 and 81 at the PGA Championship.

Jhonattan Vegas is a stroke further back at five under, while there is a 12-way tie for seventh spot.

Brooks Koepka made his first appearance since finishing second to Phil Mickelson at the PGA Championship.

Four-time major champion Koepka – who has been plagued by knee problems – shot a one-over-par 72.

The last four times Koepka has failed to record an under-par score in the first round, he has gone on to miss the cut – 2021 Masters (two over), 2021 Farmers Insurance Open (even), 2021 The American Express (even) and 2020 Mayakoba Golf Classic (even).

Bryson DeChambeau made reference to his potential financial gain through the PGA Tour's 'Player Impact Program' as his feud with Brooks Koepka continued at the Memorial Tournament.

Koepka is not playing at the event at the Muirfield Village Golf Club this week, but that has not prevented his rivalry with DeChambeau from escalating further.

A group of spectators were reportedly ejected from the tournament this weekend for shouting Koepka's name as DeChambeau lined up his shots.

Koepka responded with a video on his social media page promising free beer to 50 people who had their "time cut short" or faced "any trouble".

DeChambeau, for his part, appears keen to avoid an argument, explaining: "I think that's something that the tour needs to handle. It's something I can't control.

"I tried to take the high road numerous times, and I think that, from my perspective, I'll continue to keep doing so and people are going to do what they want to do. So, it is what it is."

However, DeChambeau also hinted at how he could benefit from the back and forth, which came to the fore after a clip of an unpublished interview with Koepka from the US PGA Championship went viral.

The clip appeared to show Koepka become distracted as DeChambeau walked past talking. He swore, cut off the interview and said: "I lost my train of thought hearing that bulls***."

DeChambeau said on Saturday: "If he keeps talking about me, that's great for the PIP fund."

The fund rewards 10 players from a $40million pot based on various metrics including their popularity on search engines and social media.

DeChambeau memes posted by legendary NFL quarterback Tom Brady in the past fortnight should certainly help in that regard.

The interjections from watching fans in Ohio were less welcome, but DeChambeau praised the spectators following Saturday's third round.

"I wanted to say the fans were awesome today," he said. "They came out, supported me. Obviously, you're going to have people saying things, but it doesn't rile me up, it doesn't affect me or anything like that.

"It's great banter, it's fun, but the fans were awesome, the golf course is in great shape."

Defending champion Jon Rahm joined Patrick Cantlay at the top of the leaderboard before the second round of the Memorial Tournament was suspended due to darkness.

The opening round was hit by storms at Muirfield Village, where most of the field managed to complete their second rounds on Friday.

Rahm – eyeing back-to-back Memorial titles – was through 13 holes when play was called for the day, the Spanish star level at eight under alongside Cantlay.

Cantlay had posted a five-under-par 67 to surge to the top of the standings in Dublin, Ohio.

The 2019 champion, Cantlay played 33 holes on Friday to be tied for the two-stroke lead through 36 holes, ahead of fellow American Scottie Scheffler (71).

Carlos Ortiz (68), Max Homa (through 14), Xander Schauffele (through 12) and Rickie Fowler (through 11) ended the day three shots off the pace at the PGA Tour event.

Overnight leader Collin Morikawa completed 12 holes but slipped down to a tie for eighth at four under, alongside the likes of Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama.

Former world number one and three-time major champion Jordan Spieth recorded a five-under-par 67 to bounce back from his first-round 76 – the American improving to one under.

Reigning U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau also completed his round – an even-par 72 – to be seven strokes behind Rahm and Cantlay but it was a testing day.

DeChambeau was taunted by fans amid his ongoing feud with fellow star Brooks Koepka, with approximately 10 spectators ejected.

There is no love lost between DeChambeau and Koepka, particularly after footage of the latter emerged during a post-round interview at the US PGA Championship.

In a leaked viral video, four-time major champion Koepka was seen rolling his eyes at DeChambeau and cursed in frustration during the interview.

After Friday's second round, DeChambeau said: "I think it's absolutely flattering what they're doing. They can keep calling me that all day if they want to, I've got no issue with it.

"When you look at it, to most people it's they think it's a distraction, but I grew up learning how to deal with that stuff and I honestly thought it was flattering.''

On Koepka – who is not playing this week – DeChambeau said: "Look, I've got nothing against him. I've got no issues at all. If he wants to play that game, that's great. I'm going to keep trying to play my best game and when it comes down to it, when somebody's that bothered by someone else it is flattering."

Meanwhile, four-time major champion Rory McIlroy shot back-to-back 72s to be even par.

Bryson DeChambeau told Brooks Koepka "it's nice to be living rent free in your head" as the two PGA Tour stars traded barbs on social media.

There is no love lost between DeChambeau and Koepka, particularly after footage of the latter emerged during a post-round interview at the US PGA Championship.

In a leaked viral video, four-time major champion Koepka was seen rolling his eyes at reigning U.S. Open winner DeChambeau and cursed in frustration during the interview.

'The Match' was announced on Wednesday, with DeChambeau partnering Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in an exhibition battle against PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson and Tampa Bay Buccaneers superstar Tom Brady.

Afterwards, Koepka and DeChambeau continued their growing feud as the former tweeted: "Sorry bro @AaronRodgers12."

DeChambeau responded by tweeting: "@BKoepka It's nice to be living rent free in your head!"

Amid the exchange, six-time major winner Mickelson wrote: "I feel like I'm in the middle of something and should step aside. [Except they want the CURRENT PGA champ:]."

There has been tension since 2019 after Koepka called out DeChambeau for slow play, while the later responded by taking aim at his fellow American's physique in 2020.

"I don't think his genetics even make him look good," DeChambeau said. "Did you see The Body Issue? He didn't have any abs. I have abs."

'The Match' will take place on July 6 at Moonlight Basin in Big Sky, Montana.

Mickelson has been a regular at this event since the first instalment in 2018, where he defeated Tiger Woods in a one-on-one match up to earn a lucrative $9million payout.

In May 2020, Mickelson first partnered NFL legend Brady – who earned a seventh career Super Bowl ring by leading the Buccaneers to glory in February – where they were beaten by Woods and Peyton Manning.

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."

Phil Mickelson became the oldest major winner in golf history after claiming the US PGA Championship.

Mickelson made history thanks to the 50-year-old American's two-stroke victory at Kiawah Island on Sunday, eclipsing Julius Boros (48 years and four months at the 1968 PGA Championship).

A final-round 73 saw Mickelson clinch a second PGA Championship title, having also tasted success in 2005, and sixth major crown.

Mickelson's remarkable triumph at six under ended an eight-year major drought after last reigning supreme via the 2013 Open Championship, while he had not won on the PGA Tour since 2019.

Louis Oosthuizen (73) and four-time major champion Brooks Koepka (74) – a two-time PGA Championship winner – finished tied for second in South Carolina.

Mickelson carried a one-shot lead over Koepka into the final round and he had to overcome a slow start in his stunning title pursuit.

It was a tough and chaotic front nine for Mickelson, who bogeyed his opening hole and dropped the third, having responded with a birdie.

Mickelson mixed a pair of birdies with a bogey from the fifth to the seventh hole approaching the turn.

A birdie at the 10th boosted Mickelson, who then holed back-to-back bogeys after his approach shot at the 13th found water.

Mickelson recovered to gain a stroke at the 16th and while he bogeyed the 17th, Koepka and Oosthuizen were unable to take advantage after also ending the deciding round over the card.

Shane Lowry (69), Padraig Harrington (69), Harry Higgs (70) and Paul Casey (71) earned a share of fourth position – four strokes behind Mickelson.

Defending champion Collin Morikawa's bid for back-to-back titles ended in a tie for eighth spot, alongside the likes of Jon Rahm (68), Justin Rose (67), Rickie Fowler (71) and Masters runner-up Will Zalatoris (70), while Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama (72) closed out the event tied for 23rd.

Former world number one Jordan Spieth and his quest to claim a career Grand Slam resulted in a share of 30th at two over, a stroke better off than reigning U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau (77).

As for four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, he ended the tournament in disappointing fashion with a 72 to finish five over.

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." 

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). 

Two-time US PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka has rated his second day performance at this year's event as a "C-plus" despite remaining firmly in contention at the halfway mark.

Koepka shot a three-under-par 69 on Thursday for a tie for second, before a one-under 71 on Friday at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island in South Carolina.

The four-time major winner remains second, one shot behind joint leaders Phil Mickelson and Louis Oosthuizen who carded 69 and 68 respectively on Friday.

Koepka, who has been battling a knee issue, bogeyed twice in his opening six holes on Friday, before an eagle on the seventh got him back on an even ledger.

He eagled the 11th, birdied the 12th before bogeys on the 15th and 17th, needing a big putt on the 18th to finish one-under for the day.

"C-plus. I missed that short one on four, missed a short one there again on 16," Koepka said. "I thought I struck it great. I drove it a lot better but it's tough to putt in this wind.

"Sometimes you're playing the wind, and sometimes you don't. The wind might take it a little bit, but you're also not trying to firm it either, and have another three-footer coming back.

"I understand everybody else is probably going to miss a few short ones with this wind, but I ball struck my way around this golf course.

"One-under in these conditions, it's okay."

Koepka has battled injuries since his back-to-back PGA Championship titles, having undergone knee surgery in March.

The 31-year-old American had missed the cut in his past two events, including last month's Masters, but insisted injury would not be an issue this week.

"It's a major. It's going to be tough, especially with the wind blowing," he said. "It doesn't matter, just go out and go play.

He added: "This was all easy. Everything I did in rehab was a hell of a lot harder, I can promise you that."

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. 

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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