Henrik Stenson (left) watches Phil Mickelson tee off during third round action at the British Open Golf Championship at Royal Troon.
Henrik Stenson (left) watches Phil Mickelson tee off during third round action at the British Open Golf Championship at Royal Troon. FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA

Two-horse race ahead for British Open

The British Open appeared to be headed for a two-horse race going in to the final round at Royal Troon tonight.

Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, 40, was on 12-under, leading the US’s Phil Mickelson, 46, by one shot as the windswept links course took its toll on the rest of the line-up.

Another American, Bill Haas was third, six shots off the pace with little-known British golfer Andrew Johnston on five-under.

World No.1 Jason Day, threatened a comeback of sorts but faded away to finish the best of the Aussies on one-over, 13 shots behind the leader.

Matt Jones (+4), Adam Scott and Marc Leishman (+5), Greg Chalmers (+7) and Scott Hend (+8) were also way off the pace.

“I know he’s not going to back down tomorrow and I’m certainly going to try to not back down either so it should be an exciting afternoon,” Stenson said.

“He’s one of the best to play the game in the last 15, 20 years and it’s going to be a tough match.

“I’ve worked hard these first three days to put myself in this situation and I’m going to try my hardest to finish the job.”

Mickelson is hoping to become the oldest player in the modern era (46) to win the Claret Jug, while Stenson is looking for his first major title.

The winds whipped up to 40kph for the second straight day on the west coast of Scotland, making conditions tricky for the world’s best golfers.

Stenson and Mickelson handled the weather the best, with their head to head battle reminiscent of the last-round clash between Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson at Turnberry in 1975.

Stenson, 40, began the day one behind his playing partner but ended it one in front after a 68, the joint lowest round of the day.

Mickelson returned a 70 to be on 11-under.

Bill Haas holed a bunker shot for a birdie on the famous Postage Stamp eighth hole, while Johnston, who has the nickname Beef, was gaining cult status, with the crowds cheering his name on almost every hole.

But they appear to be the supporting cast to the main act which is the battle between Stenson and Mickelson.

The Australians in the field barely raised a murmur as they slipped away one by one.

Last year Day and Scott led well into the final round and Leishman lost in the playoff at St Andrews.

But this time round none showed anything on what is known as moving day.

The world No.1 Day, did start well on the front nine, giving his supporters some hope he might get back into contention but he got caught out on the tricky back nine.

He eventually finished with an even-par 71, which was more than respectable in the conditions, but he needed much more than that.



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