The Open Championship

Look out Lefty: here comes Henrik Stenson

Swede closes to one stroke of leader Phil Mickelson in second round of British Open

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 July, 2016, 11:44pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 July, 2016, 10:45am

Henrik Stenson was purring with delight after reducing his five-shot overnight deficit on leader Phil Mickelson to a single stroke in the British Open second round on Friday.

Stenson knew five-times major winner Mickelson’s pedigree was such that the American was unlikely to make many unforced errors and the Swede would have to press hard on his golfing accelerator.

“I was five back of Phil [on Thursday] so of course I was hoping to gain a little and the way it turned out I gained quite a lot,” the world number six said after firing seven birdies in a 65 that gave him a nine-under total of 133.

After his stunning 63 on Thursday, Mickelson ended with a 69 on Friday to be 10 under par at the halfway stage.

“I’m happy with the way I played, of course,” said Stenson. “It’s not easy out there. It’s a great result.”

The early starters had to withstand a buffeting from driving rain and gusty winds on the Ayrshire coastline.

“I was hanging on for dear life on 11 and 12,” said Stenson. “They were playing tough and I got away with a couple of pars.

Phil Mickelson tames Troon to grab British Open lead and share of majors scoring record

The Swede is still seeking his first victory in a major but may be feeling the Open owes him a coveted Claret Jug after three times finishing in the top three.

“I haven’t been in contention for the last six majors and that was a big, big goal of mine to try to be up there and give myself a chance,” said the 40-year-old. “So far so good.

“There’s been two or three majors where I’ve been right up there. The Open at Muirfield in 2013 was one of them ... and then Phil had a great finish and won the tournament.

“There’s been a couple of US PGA Championships too where I’ve been up there. I’m sure if things would have gone my way I could have had one or two of these,” said Stenson who has 10 wins on the European Tour and four on the US circuit.

“If I keep putting myself in position and knocking on the door I hope I get a couple of good breaks at the right times.

“I’m not going to be playing these tournaments forever and ever. I don’t have another 50 goes at them ... so I’d better start putting myself in position and giving myself chances if I want to make it happen.”