Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson will head into the final round of the Open Championship with a clear gap between them and the rest of the field
Mickelson and Stenson set for Sunday showdown
Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson will head into the final round of the Open Championship with a clear gap between them and the rest of the field.
On Saturday at Royal Troon the 30mph wind never materialised, and the two golfing powerhouses were able to consolidate their position atop the leaderboard.
Stenson recorded a joint-best-of-day 68 to finish three rounds on 12-under-par, with Mickelson (-11) recording a 70.
It promises to be an intriguing final round, and if the conditions are as benign as expected, it will take something sensational for anyone else to seize the Claret Jug.
That means a Ryder Cup-style showdown beckons, with Mickelson aiming to win his sixth Major and second Open Championship and Stenson hoping to get over the line for the first time.
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Stenson started the third round strongly, making three birdies in his first five holes to reach 12-under-par and move one clear of Mickelson, who birdied the 3rd.
However, the Swede found trouble at the par-5 6th and dropped another shot at the Postage Stamp to hand the momentum back to Mickelson.
The American, meanwhile, made steady progress, producing a series of impressive par saves to keep a bogey off the card until the 14th.
His par at the 12th was particularly impressive, given he found gorse off the tee. But he hacked out, played a fine third and holed the subsequent 12-footer when at least a one-shot swing looked the most likely outcome.
A number of players made promising starts to their third rounds, but ultimately tailed off on Troon’s notoriously difficult back nine.
The likes of Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia and Soren Kjeldsen all made a number of early birdies, but something miraculous will need to happen for any of them to reign supreme after a host of dropped shots on the back side.
Popular Englishman Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnson (-5) and American Bill Haas (-6) are the two closest challengers, but they are still massive outsiders at this point.
The weather has played a significant role in this year’s Open Championship, and it seems as if horrendous conditions will be the only thing stopping either Mickelson or Stenson from lifting the Claret Jug.
Still, golf is a wildly unpredictable game. Anything can, and often does, happen, but it’s hard to envisage anyone else celebrating come Sunday evening.