Swede Henrik Stenson reflects on an outstanding 3rd round showing and his hopes for an historic Open win tomorrow.....
Q. What are your thoughts taking a one-shot lead into the final round tomorrow?
HENRIK STENSON: I thought it was just a wee breeze (laughter). Yeah, it was tough out there again, even though as normal the front nine has given you some more opportunities and got off to a flying start, hit some great shots, took some opportunities. Easily could have been 4-under through five and then dropped a couple of shots. Mis-struck my wedge quite heavily on 8, and that turned out to be a really good bogey in the end.
The key moment was really 10. I make a 35-footer for par to stay in the ballgame. Felt like Phil had a bit more momentum at that stage, and then we both had to scramble on 11 and 12, and then I just played really solid from there on, the last six or seven holes. Some good striking again, gave myself some good birdie opportunities and took them on the par-3s.
And I don't believe 17 was throwing out too many birdies this afternoon.
So, happy with the way I finished. Yeah, again, it's going to be a tough day tomorrow, long day tomorrow, but I'm looking forward to it again.
Q. Henrik, Phil has spoken about how he's free of pressure, if you like, because he's won a Claret Jug before in a few majors. You're searching for your first mainly. Is that a factor at all going into the final round? Do you have to try to block that out?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, thoughts of outcome is never really helping you. I know what I would like to see tomorrow. There's no question about it. But in a way I've got a second and two thirds at The Open, so it's not like I'm looking to pick up anymore of those finishes. There's only one thing that matters tomorrow. I know he's not going to back down, and I'm certainly going to try to not back down either. So it should be an exciting afternoon.
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. 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.
Q. Henrik, I believe Phil beat you into second place at The Open three years ago?
HENRIK STENSON: Oh, thanks for reminding me. Thank you.
Q. Please tell me there's revenge on your mind.
HENRIK STENSON: There's always revenge (smiling).
Yeah, I was one of the guys who was up there at Muirfield and Phil won it very deservingly and made a great finish; four birdies on the last six holes, I believe. Yeah, it would be great to hand one back to him tomorrow, absolutely. But as we know it's going to take some good golfing to do that, but I'm certainly willing to give it a try.
Q. Did it feel like a bit of a Ryder Cup atmosphere there with the two of you trading balls? It almost looked like it was matchplay?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, a little bit. Even though Phil's very popular in this part of the world. So maybe I could have a few more Europeans giving me a push tomorrow, then if we want to get the atmosphere of Ryder Cup going.
No, it was certainly kind of a matchplay scenario out there. I was happy enough to throw two good punches in there on the par-3s and pick up two shots on either one of them to come back out on top at the end of the third round. Because when Phil made the birdie on 13, he was in the driver's seat, and then he made another birdie on 16 where I had to make a good par save.
So, yeah, it was nice to get those two blows in there and even it out or even go one ahead. So, yeah, I'm sure we'll have plenty more of this come September.
Q. Tomorrow it will be very much like matchplay. Are you going to play Phil or the course?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, it's a bit of both, but particularly mainly I'm going to play the course. I've got my game plan. It's taken me so far.
I've made a couple of adjustments today. You've always got to -- depending on pin position and weather and how it's playing, you've always got to be open to making some changes and I did that. The plan was normally to lay up on the first, short of those bunkers. But I felt with the wind and everything and the short pin that if I hit a good 3-wood down there, I'd leave myself much easier shots and a birdie opportunity. I walked away with a birdie. It wasn't the second shot that I wanted. I would have liked to have a closer look for birdie, but it all worked out in the end. Same by hitting driver on 3 on a certain pin.
So I'm sticking to my game plan. I'm going to try to play my game as much as I can, and if I can play another solid round, hopefully that will be good at the end of the day.
Q. You've broken par on the back nine all three rounds. Why do you think you've handled the harder side well? And does that help knowing that if it's still close tomorrow with nine to go?
HENRIK STENSON: Thank you for reminding me of that because I didn't have a clue. When I'm playing well, I'm pretty solid with longer irons and there's a lot of long irons coming home. Thankfully enough I've hit some good ones coming into the wind and managed to score well on the back then. Yeah, I'll keep that in mind when I'm coming into the back nine tomorrow.
Q. Do you feel that Phil Mickelson is an intimidating opponent to have next to you on the tee?
HENRIK STENSON: I've played a lot with Phil, especially this year. I don't know why we ended up every second week together. We played at Augusta, we played at US Open, we ended up playing together last week in the third round and there's been another couple at THE PLAYERS. So I feel like he's my playing partner. We've played a lot of golf together this year, and I've known him for many years. Obviously an opponent in the Ryder Cup and I've played a lot of golf with him.
So I enjoy his company. He's always fun to watch. He hits some spectacular shots and, yeah, he's a great competitor. So it's inspiring. I know I'll have to bring my best. I would have had to bring my best no matter who I was out with tomorrow, but certainly when you're playing someone like Phil.
Q. What would it mean to you to become Open champion in the home of golf?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, it would be massive. This is the one thing I'm looking for. It would be the icing on the cake. But at the same time I've worked hard, I've put myself in a great spot. But still it's whatever you want to throw the odds, but if I give myself a 50-50, it might happen, it might not happen. The sun will come up on Monday anyway, hopefully. Maybe not in Scotland, but in other parts of the world (laughter). And I will be back at the PGA to try. I know I've got the game to win one of these championships or a few, hopefully by the end of my career, and I will just try my hardest.
Yeah, it would -- yes, it would mean that just little bit extra to win it in Scotland, aye (laughter).
Q. You kind of talk about the fact that you had missed out a couple times at not only this championship but others. Can you talk about what you took away from those situations and what you might be able to apply, if anything, this week?
HENRIK STENSON: As I said, I don't necessarily feel that much pressure tomorrow either. It's a great opportunity. But at the same time I feel like I've got nothing to lose in that sense. I haven't won The Open just because I have the 54-hole lead. I'm just going to go out there and try my hardest. That's the only thing I can do.