Phil being Phil: Mickelson takes lead in PGA Championship

Dustin Johnson hits his tee shot on the third hole during the second round of the PGA Championship golf tournament on the Ocean Course Friday, May 21, 2021, in Kiawah Island, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt York)

The PGA Tour is back in the Low Country of South Carolina this week for the Palmetto Championship at Congaree Golf Club.

This week is replacing the RBC Canadian Open for one year only after ongoing COVID-19 challenges made it too difficult to host it at its usual location.

It’s the last tournament before the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, and the field is surprisingly stout.

Leading the field is Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka. Jason Dufner and Padraig Harrington are also teeing it up this week. Then there is the recent Ben Hogan Award winner from Florida State, John Pak. Davis Thompson is also in the field this week.

This tournament will be Pak and Thompson’s PGA Tour debut after wrapping up their college golf careers last week.

The players from the Golden Isles in the field this week are Jonathan Byrd, Patton Kizzire, J.T. Poston, Hudson Swafford, Josh Teater, Keith Mitchell, Harris English and Thompson.

Byrd is paired up with Bill Haas and D.J. Trahan for the 7:22 a.m. tee time on the first hole. Kizzire has one of my favorite pairings of the tournament because he’ll play with Sungjae Im and Brandt Snedeker. They tee off at 7:33 a.m. on the 10th. I like this pairing because Im is so good on these kinds of tracks with Bermuda grass. Kizzire is also really strong on them too.

Poston will play with Johnson and Kevin Kisner and will tee off today at 7:44 a.m. on the 10th. This trio will also be fun to watch because the three are full of personality. Poston hasn’t been his best lately, but after qualifying for the U.S. Open earlier this week, maybe his confidence will be up to have a big weekend.

Swafford is paired up with Richy Werenski and Vaughn Taylor for the 8:06 a.m. tee time. Then Teater will tee off at 8:17 a.m. on the first hole with Mark Hensby and Patrick Rodgers.

Mitchell also has a stout pairing with Koepka and Lucas Glover. It’s Koepka’s first start since the PGA Championship, so it’ll be a good test to see where his health is and if the game is where he left it at Kiawah. This trio tee off at 12:59 p.m. on the first hole.

English will play with Brian Gay and Luke Donald at the 1:10 p.m. tee time, and I need him to really step up this week. He’s been middle of the row recently, but this course should play to his favor being a southern guy.

Finally Thompson will play with Roger Sloan and Rob Oppenheim at 2:16 p.m. I ’m excited to see what Thompson does in his official PGA Tour debut. After a T23 at the RSM Classic, the kid knows he’s got it, now he can just take home a check.

This week will tune up the guys for Torrey Pines, but it’ll be a good in between tournament with all those big names in the field. I think we’re in for an entertaining week of golf in the Low Country once again. However, this time we won’t see massive crowds following Lefty around and a major champion announced.

That’s next week.

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