Henrik Stenson stealing away the loot as FedEx field sleeps
Swede holds four-shot lead over Dustin Johnson and has $10m in his sights
Henrik Stenson of Sweden during the third round of the TOUR Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia. Photograph: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
The noted prankster Henrik Stenson pulled off one of his favorite escapades at a tour stop in Europe a few years ago when he found himself staying in the room next to two friends and fellow Swedes, Carl Pettersson and Olle Karlsson. Tightening the strings on his hoodie until much of his face was hidden, Stenson hopped from his balcony to theirs, opened the sliding glass door, barged inside and shouted, “Give me your money!”
Stenson’s latest caper is even bolder. He is threatening to run away in broad daylight with more than $10 million at the Tour Championship. At the start of a soggy third round Saturday at East Lake Golf Club, Stenson’s lead in the 30-man field was four strokes. After an opening nine of four-under-par 31, his advantage was nine as the other players in his group, a flu-weakened Adam Scott and Jordan Spieth, fell hopelessly, helplessly behind.
Playing the last hour in the worst of the day’s rain, Stenson bogeyed three of his last five holes for a one under 69 and a 54-hole score of 11 under. He was four shots ahead of Dustin Johnson, the last player to qualify for the tournament, who carded a 67.
“I think I’ll choose to look at it from the bright side even though the weather is not that bright at the moment,” Stenson said as rain pelted the roof of the interview tent. “Started the day with a four-shot lead and I still got it. So that’s all that matters, really.”
After Johnson, Steve Stricker was five under after a 68. Stenson is second in the FedEx Cup rankings behind Tiger Woods, which means he is one of five players who would automatically earn a $10 million bonus with a victory here.
Woods, Scott, Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar are the others. Woods was three over after a 69; Kuchar was two over after a 69; and Zach Johnson was tied for fourth at four under after a 69.
Scott, the reigning Masters champion, required intravenous fluids after a fever-filled night and struggled to a 74, which left him at two under.
“It was pretty rough this morning,” he said, adding, “The club feels like it weighs 60 pounds, and it was just hard work to get anything moving.”
Stricker said he was less surprised by Stenson’s stellar form than he was by the rest of the field’s sluggishness.
“It seems like a lot of lacklustre play,” Stricker said. “I think guys are flat. It seems like a lot of guys are tired.”
Fatigue is not a factor for Stricker, who sat out the first play-off event in Jersey City and is making only his 13th official tour start of the year.