Stenson takes a 3-shot lead in LIV golf debut at Trump Nationals

BEDMINSTER, NJ (AP) – Henrik Stenson overcame a double bogey with a long eagle putt on his third hole on Saturday and a substantial birdie for a 2-under 69 at Trump National Bedminster and a three-shot at Dustin Johnson at LIV Golf made the lead. invitation.

Two weeks earlier, Stenson had missed the cut at the British Open and was still the Ryder Cup captain for Europe. Now the 46-year-old Swede is 18 holes away from the $4 million prize, more than double the biggest check of his career.

“Sometimes it was a little tricky, and then we came up with some really good shots and made some good puts,” Stenson said.

He was at 9-under 133, as only 13 players from the 48-man field remained level.

“Overall, I am pleased, and we are in the race,” Stenson said.

Johnson has hit the ball consistently well for two days at Trump Nationals and has gotten enough putts to fall for 69, leaving him in the final group with Stenson three more times.

Talor Gooch had a best round of three shots, a 64 that took him to third under 5 with Patrick Reed (73) and Carlos Ortiz (70).

Reid started the second of three rounds tied with Stenson and kept the momentum going until the start of the back nine with three straight bogeys. He rallied with a hawk late in his round to remain in the mix going into Sunday.

With strong greenery, the wind made it difficult to score. Only 14 players performed equal or better.

Phil Mickelson was not on that list again. Stuck in a slump after a self-imposed four-month layoff, Mickelson could only manage 73 and was tied for 40th, a lead of 15 shots.

Since his return, Mickelson has a 74.5 scoring average, including at the US Open and the British Open, his only score at the first LIV golf event outside London at par.

Stenson is still new to the 54-hole event with the introduction of the shotgun, though good golf means he will start on Sunday for the second straight first hole, a degree of normalcy for him. What has not been normal has been criticized for extending his support to Europe in becoming Ryder Cup captain in March and then signing with the rival league four months later.

Europe has stripped him of the captaincy of the 2023 matches to be held in Italy.

“It’s definitely been a busy and emotional week, no question, or 10 days,” Stenson said. “But I was very happy with how I managed to channel the concentration and go on to play the best round of the season yesterday. Like I said, I didn’t have my best stuff today, but I was still focused and had a good attitude. Was, and that’s what kept me in the ballgame.”

Sweden has not lost its dry humour. When asked if he had a chip on his shoulder, Stenson replied, “I don’t see any.”

1 in the world than any player since Tiger Woods, was the biggest player to have signed a contract with Saudi-backed LIV Golf two months ago as it was about to launch.

His last win came in early 2021 at the Saudi International. He hasn’t won a PGA Tour-sanctioned tournament since the Masters in November 2020. He has finished eighth and fourth in two LIV events, which cost $1.9 million.

Johnson had no idea when he finished at No. 1 when Stenson bogeyed the par-5 18th place to end his round, reducing the Swede’s gap to three shots.

“He’s definitely in reach, especially around this course,” Johnson said.

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