USPGA Brits and Euros

Golf blog from Paul Mahoney at the 91st USPGA, where the British challenge seems to be fading as Tiger Woods sets the pace and will be the man to beat on the final day.

Henrik Stenson

Have you heard the one about the Irishman, the Swede and the Dane chasing an American around a field in Minneapolis?

Europe’s challenge to Tiger Woods at the USPGA has come down to Padraig Harrington, Henrik Stenson and Soren Kjeldsen.

“To get a win, you’ve got to beat Tiger by three tomorrow; that’s a tall order,” Harrington said, -6 after a third-round 69 and tied 2nd with Korea’s Y E Yang, two shots adrift of leader, Woods.

“Everybody wants to see a battle.  Everybody hopes the underdog catches up. But when he catches up, ultimately, they want the hero to win, as usual. That’s the way all the storybooks are written. I get the impression there’s a lot of people cheering me on, wanting me to push him along, but they still want Tiger to win,” he said laughing. “I’m happy to fill that role, and you never know what happens over the last nine holes.”

Keeping Harrington company on the leaderboard is Sweden’s Henrik Stenson. He is -4 after a third-round 68 and tied 4th. And he did it all without once having to strip down to his underwear. “If I can be up there within three of the lead when we turn into the back nine, it’s time to play a little bit more aggressive, make a couple of putts and see what happens,” he said.

Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen is at -3 and tied 6th. He’s Europe’s sleeping giant, walking quietly about his business but carrying a bag of big sticks. He has won four times in Europe, including this year’s Andalucia Open but the only interesting fact about him is that he ran a marathon in 1997 just for the, ahem, fun of it. His time: three hours, 54 minutes. Which is about the same time he’ll take on Sunday to find out if he’ll become his country’s Great Dane. He’ll probably hit the wall somewhere on the back nine.

But where have all the Brits gone? At the start of the third round, England had Ross Fisher tied second, and Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter tied third. By Saturday night, a +1 par 73 left Westwood tied 13th at -1 and Fisher fell back into a tie for 8th at -2 after a third-round +1 par 73. Poulter tweeted on Saturday morning: “Just ironed my outfit for the day and put my laundry on for the week.” After a 76, he’s all washed up at +2 and tied 26th.

Still, at least his beloved Arsenal won. “Go on the Arsenal 6 - 1 today,” Poulter tweeted. “Great first game of the season, can’t wait to watch highlights, better than watching my lowlights of the day.” Well, yes. Point well tweeted.

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