2016 Open Championship: Stenson in pole position for first Major on final day
Simon Sinclair | June 16, 2016
2016 Open Championship
- Final day
- Sunday, July 17th
- First tee-off: 07:35 BST
- Royal Troon Golf Club, South Ayrshire, Scotland
- Live on Sky Sports The Open
Swede Stenson a stroke ahead
Henrik Stenson enjoyed a solid third round at The Open to put himself in pole position to clinch his first Major. The Swede pulled one stroke ahead of Phil Mickelson to leave himself 12-under going into the final day at Royal Troon, but will have to cope with the pressure to lift the Claret Jug come the end of play on Sunday.
Mickelson is also desperate to end his three-year wait for his sixth slam, achieved on Scottish soil at the Muirfield Links in 2013, and has displayed in the past the mettle to cope with final-day nerves.
Stenson had a solid start on the opening day of the tournament, shooting a three-under round of 68 to put himself in contention, although Mickelson blew the rest of the field away with his opening eight-under performance.
However, the 40-year-old struck back to close the gap to one shot through his second round as he put in the display of the day with a six-under score of 65. He notched seven birdies, making just one mistake in a brilliant effort to reel in the American.
The Swede began his third round on Saturday with the same confidence, getting off to an impressive start by birdieing three of the opening four holes, although his front nine was blighted by bogeys on the sixth and eighth to leave him one-under on the day at the turn.
Stenson was composed on the back nine putting in a flawless display to take the outright lead courtesy of two birdies on the 14th and 17th, leaving him in prime position to clinch the first Major of his career at odds of 7/10.
It would have been impossible for American Mickelson to match his effort of the opening day when he was cruelly denied a record-breaking round of 62 as his birdie putt spun round the edge of the 18th hole.
The 46-year-old was steady following his misfortune, but was not able to match the pedigree of Stenson around the course over the last two rounds, leaving him trailing the Swede going into the final day.
Mickelson had a solid front nine on day three, producing an error-free performance along with a birdie at the third to leave him one-under going out.
However, he twice birdied and bogeyed back-to-back holes on the back nine to leave himself with work to do at Royal Troon, although he is no stranger to heroics on the final day of Majors.
Mickelson and Stenson finished first and second in the American’s last triumph at a slam three years ago, and he has odds of 7/5 to win the Claret Jug for the second time in his career.
Others in the mix for the crown
Bill Haas is six shots off the pace going into the final round following his two-under round of 69. The American struck five birdies on Saturday, but was held in by three bogeys, including two on the back nine.
England’s Andrew Johnston carries the flag for the Home Nations at five-under in the tournament.
The 27-year-old was composed in his third round with a one-under display, although he may come to regret two costly bogeys on the back nine, leaving him out of striking distance. His odds could be worth a punt at 70/1, while Haas comes in at 40/1.
JB Holmes looked like he was on course to make a strong push towards the top two with three birdies on the front nine, but two bogeys halted his charge, resulting in a seven-shot deficit from Stenson and long odds at 125/1 to triumph at Royal Troon.
McIlroy anger, Monty woe, Spieth and Day out of contention
Rory McIlroy endured a frustrating third round as he struggled with the weather and his putting, ending his hopes of winning the competition.
The 27-year-old’s emotions got the better of him on the 16th, leading him to smash his three wood into the turf following an errant strike off the fairway. He recorded a two-over round, leaving him at even-par over the course of the championship.
Colin Montgomerie’s attempts to roll back the years ended in failure as he hoped to recover from a four-over display from his second round.
The Scot was two-over for the day at the turn, but his woes were intensified on the back nine with two double-bogeys and three bogeys, resulting in an eight-over finish.
Jordan Spieth appeared to have mastered the course he had struggled to contend with over the opening two days, with a three-under display on the front nine. However, a four-over run returning in cost him any hope of competing for the title at one-over for the tournament.
Jason Day had an even better time of it on the opening nine holes, carding 32 with four birdies. Had he maintained that form he would have been in with a shout on the final day, but four bogeys on the back nine – his worst thus far in the tournament – ended his challenge.
Johnson D -1
Johnson Z -1