Henrik Stenson had just come in from firing his third round 68 on Saturday that gave him a one-shot lead over Phil Mickelson going into the finale of the Open Championship at Royal Troon.
Naturally in a situation such as this, Stenson’s lack of a major championship on his resume came up, especially with Mickelson having five, including a victory at the 2013 Open Championship.
“I’ve got a second and two thirds at the Open, so it’s not like I’m looking to pick up anymore of those finishes. There’s only one thing that matters (Sunday),” said Stenson of winning the Claret Jug.
Of course, somebody had to remind Stenson that his second place finish came in 2013 when Mickelson’s 66 in the final round put him up by four over Stenson, who shot a 70 that day. Stenson sarcastically thanked the observer for that information.
“I was one of the guys who was up there at Muirfield and Phil won it very deservingly and made a great finish, he admitted.
“Yeah, it would be great to hand one back to him (Sunday), absolutely, but as we know, it’s going to take some good golfing to do that, but I’m certainly willing to give it a try,” said Stenson, who was 12 under going into the final round.
With Mickelson one shot back and the next closest another five back, more wet and windy weather is expected at Royal Troon, something similar to the conditions on Saturday.
“it was tough out there again, even though, as normal the front nine has given you some more opportunities and Igot off to a flying start, hit some great shots, took some opportunities, said Stenson, who birdied three of his first four holes.
“Easily could have been four under through five and then dropped a couple of shots. I mis-struck my wedge quite heavily on eight and that turned out to be a really good bogey in the end,” he said.
“The key moment was really 10. I make a 35-footer for par to stay in the ball game. I felt like Phil had a bit more momentum at that stage and then we both had to scramble on 11 and 12, and then I just played really solid from there on, the last six or seven holes,” said Stenson, who added birdies on 14 and 17, both par threes.
Mickelson birdied the third hole and was even par on the back nine with two birdies, two bogeys to finish with a one-under 70.
“I was off today. I didn’t have my best stuff,” said Mickelson.
“My rhythm was a little quick from the top as we started downwind. I was a little bit jumpy and my rhythm wasn’t very good today. I found a way to kind of settle in and hit some shots and then, find ways to make pars on the times that I hit some poor shots,” he added.
“Today could have been a day that got away from me. Instead I shot under par and kept myself right in heading into tomorrow’s final round, so I’m proud of that, said Mickelson, adding that he planned some after-round work on his swing.
“I’d love to play (Sunday)’s final round the way I did the first two and give myself a shot,” he added.
Stenson has the experience to know Mickelson will bring it on Sunday.
“I know he’s not going to back down and I’m certainly going to try to not back down either, so it should be an exciting afternoon,” said Stenson.
“He’s one of the best to play the game in the last 15, 20 years, for sure and it’s going to be a tough match, but I’m looking forward to the opportunity. I’ve worked hard these first three days to put myself in this situation and, once again, going to try my hardest tomorrow to finish the job,” he said.
No Canadians are in the field.
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