Henrik Stenson is on course to win his maiden major title at The Open Championship after opening up a one-shot advantage over American Phil Mickelson heading into the final round at Royal Troon. The Swede leads a major after 54 holes for the first time in his career after carding a 68 to go to 12-under ahead of the 2013 winner.
Stenson put together a flawless back-nine with two birdies at the 14th and 17th holes to edge ahead of Mickelson, who is on 11-under but relinquished his lead after two days after following a pair of bogeys down the stretch. The pair will be in the final group for a second day in succession and are set to resume their rivalry from three years ago when five-time major champion Mickelson claimed the title at Muirfield.
"You want to get a few birdies in early and it was a fast start, then I had a couple of wobbles on five and eight," Stenson told Sky Sports. "But I played a really solid last six or seven holes into the wind. I'm playing really nicely and I know Phil will not back off, he is one of the finest players to have played in the last 50 years but I'm right where I want to be."
It will require an alright effort from the chasing pack to ensure that either Stenson or Mickelson do not claim the 145th Open Championship, on a day of changeable conditions in Scotland. Organisers were forced to make late decisions on pin and hole positions as crosswinds played havoc.
Among those hoping to make an impression on day four will be Americans Bill Haas [six-under], JB Holmes [four-under] and Steve Stricker [three-under] whose third round 68 was only matched by Haydn Porteous, Brandt Sneaker and Stenson as the performance of the day. There is also British interest in the form of Andrew Johnston but at five-under with 18 holes remaining he will require a huge effort to be in contention.
""That was fantastic, I had so much fun out there," the Englishman, who is nicknamed 'Beef' told BBC Radio 5 Live. "I am loving it, the support is amazing. Life has changed a bit, but I am doing the same things, getting up, playing golf and enjoying myself.
"I had a job interview in the city and was offered the job for a week's trial. I was in Starbucks and made the decision to carry on playing golf or do something else. My heart came out and I carried on playing golf - luckily I made that decision. Tomorrow I will carry on as I have been for the last three days, I will concentrate, not give up and be happy."