x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Stenson's crowd trouble

The Swede was fuming at the end of his third round after striking a spectator with his tee shot to the 18th hole and incurring a double-bogey six.

TURNBERRY // Henrik Stenson was fuming at the end of his third round after striking a spectator with his tee shot to the 18th hole and incurring a double-bogey six. Swede Stenson, who is based in Dubai, was level par at the time and in with a decent chance of coming out of the pack this afternoon to make a strong challenge for his first major title. Now, he reckons, he may have lost too much ground on the leaders.

"The crowd were too close down the right hand side of the fairway," complained Stenson, whose drive struck a middle-aged man flush on the head and bounced back in the wrong direction. "I'm not happy with how far in they let the crowd come in," added Stenson, who contacted Peter Dawson, secretary of the Royal & Ancient organising body, to register his dissatisfaction. "The spectator almost suffers concussion and I lose 40 metres in distance. My chances of victory are now slim."

The unfortunate ricochet meant the long-hitting Stenson could not go for the green with his second shot to the 461-yard closing hole and he left himself a more difficult third than he would have liked, before compounding his misery with three putts. "I thought I was playing well on the back nine and then this happens," concluded Stenson, winner of 12 professional titles including two in the Gulf Region and this year's prestigious PGA Players' Championship - the so-called fifth major - at Sawgrass, Florida. A par at that final hole would have left Stenson alongside American Bryce Molder, who made giant strides up the leaderboard with what, in the conditions, was a splendid 67.

"It has been a lifelong dream to play in an Open here," said Molder. "I love the way the golf is played here." wjohnson@thenational.ae