Stenson one ahead of Mickelson after Troon slugfest

Sat Jul 16, 2016 3:51pm EDT
 
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By Tony Jimenez

TROON, Scotland (Reuters) - The British Open was fortified by the over-40s on Saturday as Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson produced a ding-dong tussle to turn golf's oldest major into a gripping two-man slugfest.

It was a case of parry and thrust from the Swede and the American as Royal Troon showed its teeth for the second day running, the third-round winds whipping up to 25mph on the west coast of Scotland and making good scoring extremely tough.

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, left him on 12-under-par 201.

Mickelson, 46, hoping to become the oldest winner of the tournament in the modern era, returned a 70 for 202.

In third spot, a distant six strokes off the pace, was American Bill Haas (69) with the bearded Andrew Johnston (70) flying the flag for Britain in fourth position.

The popular Johnston, inspired by the fans crying out his nickname 'Beef, Beef' on almost every hole, ended up on 208, one ahead of American JB Holmes (69).

"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 told reporters of his thrilling head-to-head duel with Mickelson.

"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."Stenson, bidding to become the first Scandinavian male to land a major, made his intentions clear when he birdied the opening hole. He then went one ahead of his playing partner after picking up another shot at the fourth.   Continued...

 
Jul 16, 2016;  Troon, Ayrshire, SCT; Henrik Stenson (SWE) lines up a putt on the 5th green during the third round of the 145th Open Championship golf tournament at Royal Troon Golf Club - Old Course. Mandatory Credit: Ian Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports