Kiawah wind switch at PGA could play into Mickelson's hands

·3-min read
Jordan Spieth, tossing his putter into the air on the sixth green, says a switch in wind direction could help Phil Mickelson's cause in Sunday's final round of the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island

Kiawah Island's blustery winds are expected to switch directions for Sunday's final round of the PGA Championship, which could help 50-year-old US left-hander Phil Mickelson's bid to make history.

Mickelson, trying to become the oldest major champion in golf history, stood on seven-under par 209 after 54 holes, one ahead of four-time major winner Brooks Koepka and two ahead of 2010 British Open winner Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa.

Players have been battered by breezes from the east for two days and then crosswinds from the south on Saturday, but Sunday's gusts are expected to blow in from the west.

That, warns three-time major winner Jordan Spieth, could give "Lefty" an edge even as every player copes with a course playing unlike they have seen all week.

"Tomorrow's wind direction is very suitable for a lefty on that into-the-wind nine holes when you get it in off the left with a lot of trouble on the right side," Spieth said.

"He can start it off left and hold the wind or even draw it back into those pins. I think it's very suitable for a left-hander versus the other winds that we've had."

Only 12 players are under par through 54 holes with Spieth in a pack on level par 216. He would have to match the greatest final-day fightback in PGA history to win the title and complete a career Grand Slam.

"Every hole will play different," Spieth said. "It will certainly be an adjustment.

"Your expectation on certain holes will change. You go from just trying to hold on for dear life the last four to, 'Hey, maybe I can grab a couple tomorrow.'"

Rickie Fowler, chasing his first major title thanks to a special invitation, is with Spieth and Patrick Cantlay on 216 and has seen the west wind over the formidable Ocean Course.

"I've been waiting for it to flip," Fowler said. "I'm not saying it's going to help a whole lot, but two weekends ago we were here, Cantlay and I, and we played southwest wind for two days."

"It's a tough stretch in the middle of the course, whereas the wind we've been playing, guys have been taking advantage of that stretch 6-13. It's definitely play a lot different."

- 'All over the place' -

Oosthuizen isn't so far back, but he sees a limited number of rivals with a chance.

"Major, Sunday afternoon, I don't think you can be too far back," he said. "I think anyone within four or five shots is still in for a good shot."

That's only eight foes behind Mickelson, and Oosthuizen says he's lucky to be among them after struggling to a level par 72 Saturday.

"That was probably the worst I've played in a while," he said. "I was all over the place. I was just sort of fighting to stay in it. At the end there, started judging the greens wrong and everything just fell apart.

"All in all, two behind going into Sunday, I've got to take a lot of positives out of that with the way I was playing."