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Phil Mickelson shows he is still the man for the majors by making cut for 100th time

Phil Mickelson walks the 13th green during the third round of the US PGA - Phil Mickelson shows he is still the man for the majors by making cut for 100th time - USA TODAY Sports/Aaron Doster

But for an alert rules official who saved Phil Mickelson at least one shot, the 52-year-old would not have still been here at the 105th US PGA Championship on Saturday earning the applause for making his 100th cut in the majors.

As the rains poured, there must have been moments during this third round when Mickelson might have wondered if it had been better if the referee had kept schtum, although he would not be the great competitor he undoubtedly remains if he took the easy route.

Plenty has been said about the left-hander in the last year – and no, the majority of it has not been complimentary – but there can be no questioning the magnificence of his longevity.

Certainly the Rochester fans were appreciative as they braved the downpour to pay homage to the character who will always possess the X-factor regardless of his X-rated rant against the “scary Saudi motherf-----s” from whom he later received $20million to jump ship.

There was one reported heckle in the first round, but otherwise this has been the usual Lefty love-in. And more than anyone on this sodden course – as Oak Hill became Soak Hill – he interacted with the galleries, chucking them balls in almost as many numbers as smiles and thumbs up.

On the 15th, his errant drive hit a fan, but the gentleman was familiarly thrilled when Mickelson gave him a ball and then told his caddie/brother, Tim, to reward the wounded with sweets. They conversed and laughed and it was impossible not feel that here was Mickelson in his element.

Phil Mickelson of the United States plays a shot on the 10th hole during the second round of the US PGA - Phil Mickelson shows he is still the man for the majors by making cut for 100th time - Getty Images/Kevin Cox
Phil Mickelson of the United States plays a shot on the 10th hole during the second round of the US PGA - Phil Mickelson shows he is still the man for the majors by making cut for 100th time - Getty Images/Kevin Cox

“We love you, Phil,” one elderly spectator bellowed as he trudged up that fairway, bizarrely wearing his sunglasses while wisely covering his hands in rain gloves. The leaders were not due out for another couple of hours, but, in the bog, the San Diego maverick had once again proved more than a capable warm-up act.

Except, Mickelson does not want that role and as last month’s runner-up in the Masters justified his opinion that he does not have to be ceremonial and might yet have a seventh major title in his locker.

When he reached the century on Friday night, his first instinct was not to say how proud he was to be joining Tom Watson on three-digit mark – with Gary Player on 102 and Jack Nicklaus on a never-beatable 131 – but to talk up his chances of replicating his 2021 US PGA miracle.

At the halfway point, he was 10 shots off the pace – set by Scottie Scheffler, Viktor Hovland and Corey Conners – with another 56 players in between, but he was not conceding. “It makes me optimistic that I still made the cut playing as poorly as I have,” Mickelson said, “and I think if I can get it turned around, I can make a run.”

It was not to be. He double-bogeyed the second after missing the green from the fairway and taking four to get down from 30 feet and followed it up with bogeys on the sixth, ninth and 16th.

A Mickelson scorecard without a single birdie is a rare sight indeed and it would have been easy for the veteran to lose grip of his cool. Jon Rahm, the world No 1, certainly did, smashing a nearby fixed microphone after shanking a chip.

However, Mickelson, in his 119th major, remained calm, enacting some ridiculous par saves in his 75 that left him on 10-over.

In that deluge his round was perfectly respectable. His ability to be competitive is beyond that, regardless of what you think of LIV Golf.

His hundred was not the only milestone Mickelson has reached here. This is the 27th time he has qualified for the last two rounds of the US PGA, tying the record held by Jack Nicklaus and Raymond Floyd. Who says he will not make history next year?