Stenson hits back nine one clear


Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson played stunning golf on the front nine as they hit the turn with the Swede still one ahead in Sunday's final round of the 145th Open Championship.

Stenson, sitting 16 under, is seeking a first major title, while Mickelson eyes a sixth, having beaten his rival to the 2013 Open at Muirfield, and they left the chasing pack adrift at Royal Troon.

Mickelson, who narrowly missed out on the first 62 in major history in the opening round, immediately reversed a one-shot overnight deficit with a birdie at the first to capitalise on his opponent's bogey.

He then almost holed out from off the green when chipping over a bunker at the second, where Stenson's birdie putt pulled him level in a start that truly set the tone.

For the third hole running the leaderboard changed as Stenson regained an advantage, picking up another stroke and watching on as Mickelson missed his birdie attempt.

The American made up for that with his first eagle of the week at the fourth, Stenson making it three gains in a row to square things up before they shared a par and a birdie each on the fifth and sixth respectively.

Amid two such spectacular rounds, Mickelson's wayward tee shot at the seventh was out of place, but he saved par to keep pace.

Mickelson was closer to the pin at the Postage Stamp, but two-putted where Stenson only needed one to regain a slender lead he still held after the ninth.

The back nine has proven much more difficult this week, but Stenson was six under across the first three rounds, and Mickelson three under.

While the leading duo naturally stole the limelight, with JB Holmes a distant third at seven under, there were impressive scores from some of the big names out early on Sunday.

Jordan Spieth and Lee Westwood carded 68s and Rory McIlroy, who won the title in 2014, climbed the leaderboard with a final-round 67.