Stenson leads Mickelson at The Open – report & highlights

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The Open, round three leaderboard
-12 H Stenson (Swe); -11 P Mickelson (US); -6 B Haas (US), -5 A Johnston (Eng)
Selected: -3 S Stricker (US); -2 S Garcia (Spa), K Bradley (US); -1 T Hatton (Eng), D Johnson (US), Z Johnson (US); Level R McIlroy (NI); +1 J Day (Aus); +2 J Rose (Eng); +4 L Donald (Eng), L Westwood (Eng), R Knox (Sco); +5 J Donaldson (Wal); +7 D Willett (Eng); +12 C Montgomerie (Sco)
Full leaderboard

Sweden’s Henrik Stenson leads American Phil Mickelson by one stroke heading into the final round of the Open Championship at Royal Troon.

The pair traded blows over 18 holes on day three, as Stenson carded a three-under-par 68 for 12 under overall, one shot clear of Mickelson, who shot 70.

American Bill Haas is six shots off the lead after a 69, one clear of England’s Andrew Johnston, who posted 70.

Rory McIlroy’s hopes faded on day three as he finished on level par after a 73.

JB Holmes is fifth, on four under, after a score of 69, and is one clear of fellow Americans Steve Stricker (68) and Tony Finau (72) and Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen (75).

Duel in the gloom

Henrik Stenson (left) and Phil Mickelson

Five-time major winner Mickelson, 46, began the day on 10 under par after carding a 63, the joint-lowest round in major history, on day one and scoring 69 on day two.

Stenson, 40, was one shot behind at the halfway stage but found himself one shot ahead on 12 under after birdies on the third and fourth holes.

However, Stenson bogeyed the sixth and the eighth to hand the lead back to his rival, who reeled off nine straight pars between the fourth and 12th.

A birdie at the par-four 13th moved Mickelson two clear, but he then bogeyed the par-three 15th, which Stenson holed in two to draw level once more.

The American then took a one-shot lead with a birdie at the 16th. Things changed round again, though, as he bogeyed the par-three 17th, and Stenson birdied it to lead on his own again.

At the 18th, Mickelson found sand with his approach but he managed to make par after a typically miraculous escape, ensuring he trailed by only one shot and setting up what promises to be a thrilling duel over the Old Course.

The Swede is bidding to become the first Scandinavian to win a major title, while Mickelson is chasing his second Open win, having beaten Stenson into second place in 2013 at Muirfield.

“I’ve always thought it’s better to be one ahead than one behind,” Stenson said.

“I know Phil’s not going to back down, and I’m certainly not going to back down either.

“Even though Phil’s popular in this part of the world, maybe I’ll have a few more Europeans giving me a push and we can get a Ryder Cup atmosphere going.”

Should Mickelson win on Sunday, he would be the seventh American in a row to win the Open at Royal Troon.

He said: “I have to get my rhythm back. My rhythm was out of sorts.

“I shot under par and kept myself right in it but I’d love to play the final round like I played the first two and give myself a shot. Hopefully I get dialled back in.”

Rory frustrated

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Northern Ireland’s McIlroy drove the ball beautifully in breezy conditions on the west coast of Scotland but missed a host of birdie chances on the outward nine.

The wind abated as he turned for home but the 2014 champion was unable to make any kind of impression. When he sliced his approach at the 16th, he smashed his three wood into the ground in frustration, causing the head to snap off.

With winds of up to 25mph forecast, tournament organisers decided not to cut or roll the greens before play started, which McIlroy blamed for his indecisive putting.

“When the greens are a lot slower than you’re used to, these things can happen,” said the four-time major winner, whose last major victory was the USPGA in 2014.

Explaining his club abuse, McIlroy said: “I let one go right with a three iron on the previous hole and I did exactly the same on the 16th. Nobody likes to make the same mistake twice.”

Rory McIlroy

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Scoring tough in easier conditions

The hopes of a host of big names were wrecked by the weather on Friday afternoon but few of them thrived in better conditions on Saturday morning.

World number one Jason Day (+1) went out in four-under 32 but came back in four-over 39 for a level-par 71.

World number three Jordan Spieth (+5) made four birdies in his first seven holes but dropped four shots around the turn before finishing with a 72.

Reigning US Open champion Dustin Johnson (-1) was putting a handy round together, but also carded a 72 after making a triple-bogey at the 11th.

England’s Justin Rose (+2) was three under after 15 but dropped three shots at the 16th for a 70, while Masters champion Danny Willett (+7) laboured to a 74.

World number seven Rickie Fowler (+4) made a quadruple-bogey eight at the 11th, the hardest hole on the course, and signed for a 76.

Colin Montgomerie, an honorary member of Royal Troon, stormed off without speaking to the media after a 79 left him propping up the field on 12 over.

Sunday sun?

The Met Office expects it to be dry on Sunday, with some bright or sunny spells. Early afternoon winds of 10-15mph, gusting to 20-25mph, are expected to abate as the day goes on.

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