TROON, United Kingdom (AFP) – Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson are set to battle it out with one another for victory on the final day of the British Open at Royal Troon on Sunday.
Sweden’s Stenson stands at 12 under par, a lead of one shot from Mickelson, after an excellent third-round score of 68 in cool and blustery conditions on Scotland’s west coast on Saturday.
Mickelson had led at the halfway stage and still shot a one-under-par 70 on Saturday, but bogeys at the 14th and 17th holes allowed Stenson to overtake him.
‘‘He’s one of the best to play the game in the last 15, 20 years for sure, and it’s going to be a tough match,’’ said Stenson after his third round.
‘‘But I’m looking forward to the opportunity. I’ve worked hard these first three days to put myself in this situation and, once again, going to try my hardest tomorrow to finish the job.’’
The duo will go out in the final pairing of the day at 2:35pm local time (1335 GMT) on Sunday, with their nearest challenger Bill Haas of the United States sitting at six-under.
England’s Andrew Johnston stands at five under par and will go out with Haas in the penultimate pairing 10 minutes earlier.
Stenson is bidding to win his first major at the age of 40 after several near misses – he has had seven top-four finishes in majors and was the runner-up to Mickelson in the British Open at Muirfield in 2013.
‘‘It would be great to hand one back to him tomorrow, absolutely. As we know it’s going to take some good golfing to do that, but I’m certainly willing to give it a try,’’ Stenson said.
If he does triumph, Stenson will become the first Scandinavian man ever to win a major and the first player from continental Europe to lift the Claret Jug since the late, great Seve Ballesteros of Spain in 1988.
However, history, and Mickelson’s favoured ‘‘Golf Gods’’, are on the side of the 46-year-old left-hander, and perhaps Haas too.