Phil Mickelson has the skill to pull off a shocking victory at age 50 at the PGA Championship, according to fellow major winners and long-time rivals watching him at Kiawah Island.
The US left-hander, a five-time major winner, fired a three-under par 69 in gusting winds at the Ocean Course on Friday to seize a share of the 36-hole lead with South African Louis Oosthuizen on five-under 139.
"I think he has the bit between his teeth. I think he believes he can do it in these conditions," three-time major winner Padraig Harrington of Ireland said.
"In the position he's in, I expect him to contend, and I wouldn't put it past him being there at the end of the week."
Mickelson, a three-time Masters champion, would be the oldest major winner in history, eclipsing the mark set by American Julius Boros at age 48 at the 1968 PGA Championship.
"Is it surprising to see him up there? I don't think you can ever count Phil out," 2019 US Open winner Gary Woodland said. "He's one of the best players to ever play this game, so I don't care what kind of form he's in."
Woodland doesn't see 50 as any sort of limit, noting Tom Watson's playoff loss at age 59 in the 2009 British Open.
"Watson almost won at 60. And Phil drops bombs now. Phil hits it a long way," he said. "If he keeps it in play with the way his short game is, he's going to be in contention a lot."
England's Paul Casey, only three strokes behind Mickelson, would love to see "Lefty" win the title.
"Phil is one of the greatest short game magicians that has ever lived," Casey said.
"It doesn't surprise me. I'm quite enoying it. I hope he goes all the way, and if he doesn't win, he's a threat all the way through because it's brilliant. It's great for the championship and I love it."
Harrington, who turns 50 in August, was on 144 after 36 holes, and 2019 British Open winner Shane Lowry of Ireland was happy to see the elder statesmen succeed.
"Phil is obviously Phil. He's one of the best players of all time. It's great to see those boys playing well and out here competing. It just shows you that age is only a number."
Mickelson has thrived in high winds that battered other big names.
"This is a tough golf course, and I think he can be right there with how good his short game is," Woodland said.
- No wide ones -
Australian Jason Day, the 2015 PGA Championship winner, was happy that Mickelson wasn't soaring bad misses off the tee.
"With Phil, you kind of get some off-the-map drives that make it very interesting, and he's kept it very, very straight over the last two days," said playing partner Day.
"Usually with Phil you can get some pretty wide ones. He kept it in front of him... if he can hit it the way he has been, he's going to be around on Sunday for sure."
Harrington says a course dictating patience like Kiawah might be perfect conditions for Mickelson.
"You can be patient on these courses. You've got to make a few birdies, but it suits somebody who is a player, somebody who is thinking," he said.
"I'm bullish about where I am and I'm sure Phil is, too. He's going to push no matter what. He's not here to make the cut. He's not here to finish.
"Even 15th would be a disappointment. You know what? Even second would be a disappointment for Phil."