Rookie Stenson Continues to Shine


Despite a shaky start, Henrik Stenson managed to collect himself with a third round score of 71 and retain his solid lead at the Benson and Hedges International Open.
At 11-under-par 205, the 25-year-old Swede leads by three shots over Olle Karlsson (68) and Paul McGinley (70). Four back at 7-under sits Angel Cabrerra (69), while young Australian Aaron Baddeley (69) is amongst a group of three at minus-six.
Stenson, who began his round with the same lead of three shots, hit the bricks early, with bogies at Nos. 1 and 4, but quickly righted the ship with three birdies over the remainder of his round.
I had a rough start but I fought hard to get the shots back which I managed to do, so Im pretty pleased with the day overall, he commented. To be honest, I didnt expect to shoot 71 and still be leading by three, but it is difficult to tell what will happen sometimes.
Chances are, Stenson wasnt exactly sure what would happen at all entering this week. In the ten events in which he has competed in his rookie season, he has had a bit of a tough time of it, missing three cuts and not recording a finish better than a tie for 27th place.
However, he is no stranger to good play, as he took the top rankings on the 2000 Challenge Tour in Europe, and on Saturday, he issued his strategy to seal the deal.
My game plan tomorrow will be the same as it has been for the first three rounds, just go out there and try and play as well as I can and to do the very best on every shot. I had a good year last year, but to win on the main tour would be really special.
Likewise, it would be a special occasion for Karlsson, who has been owner to an injury-plagued career, and was forced to qualify this year through Q-school.
Last year I didnt have my card but I played 12 tournaments and was close to qualifying, he stated. But I went to Qualifying School and got my card back. This year Ive started pretty well, coming in 12th in Malaysia and eighth in Argentina, and have made a few cuts since then. And for a change I am injury-free!
Unfortunately for Sam Torrance ' who through Fridays second round, was just four shots off the lead ' injury reared its ugly face at The Belfry and he was forced to withdraw, when he damaged muscles in his midsection on the practice range.
Yet the European Ryder Cup captain remained upbeat on his prognosis for captaincy at this same Belfry course later in September.
I suppose the one good this to come from this is, that no matter how many injuries I get in September, it wont affect the performance of the team. I can walk and talk, pick and choose, bully and shout, even though I have damaged ribs.
For defending champion Jose Maria Olazabal, he is hoping he will have the opportunity to hear the jaunts and jeers from Torrance, as he sits eighth on the Order of Merit list. A round of 72 Saturday, however, has his chances for a repeat victory diminished, as he sits at 2-under for the tournament.
Likewise, Thomas Bjorn, who began his day just three off the pace, shot a disappointing 75 in Round Three to drop seven shots back at 4-under.
Full-field scores from the Benson and Hedges International Open