Mickelson and Stenson poised for Sunday showdown
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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.

Related: Henrik Stenson swing sequence

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.

Nick Bonfield
Nick Bonfield

Nick Bonfield joined Golf Monthly in 2012 after graduating from Exeter University and earning an NCTJ-accredited journalism diploma from News Associates in Wimbledon. He is responsible for managing production of the magazine, sub-editing, commissioning and feature writing. Most of his online work is opinion-based and typically centres around the Majors and significant events in the global golfing calendar. Nick has been an avid golf fan since the age of ten and became obsessed with the professional game after watching Mike Weir and Shaun Micheel with The Masters and USPGA respectively in 2003. In his time with Golf Monthly, he's interviewed the likes of Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Jose Maria Olazabal, Henrik Stenson, Padraig Harrington, Lee Westwood and Billy Horschel and has ghost-written columns for Westwood, Wayne Riley, Matthew Southgate, Chris Wood and Eddie Pepperell. Nick is a 12-handicap golfer and his favourite courses include Old Head, Sunningdale New, Penha Longha, Valderrama and Bearwood Lakes. If you have a feature pitch for Nick, please email nick.bonfield@futurenet.com with 'Pitch' in the subject line. Nick is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade M1 Fairway wood: TaylorMade RBZ Stage 2 Hybrid: Ping Crossover Irons (4-9): Nike Vapor Speed Wedges: Cleveland CBX Full Face, 56˚, Titleist Vokey SM4, 60˚ Putter: testing in progress! Ball: TaylorMade TP5x