Stenson leading Euro charge with Rose

8/10/2013 12:33:00 AM
Henrik Stenson   (Getty Images)
Henrik Stenson (Getty Images)

Sweden’s Henrik Stenson matched Justin Rose’s halfway total of six under par 134 to sit just three shots off the lead with 36 holes to play at the US PGA Championship.

Currently leading The Race to Dubai, Stenson made three birdies en route to a flawless 66 at Oak Hill Country Club and – having completed a career-best Major Championship finish of second place at last month’s Open Championship – will retain great hopes of going one better this weekend in Rochester with halfway leader Jason Dufner within his sights.

The 37 year old, who sprang to the top of The European Tour money list thanks to a fine run of performances, including tied second at last week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, made three birdies in a front nine 32 before adding a fourth gain of the day at the driveable 14th.

There was plenty of good scrambling from the Gothenburg man, too, on Friday – including a testing putt at the last to remain bogey-free.

“I hit almost every fairway, that was the big difference compared to yesterday,” said World Number 11 Stenson.  “I hit some solid iron shots into some good positions and rolled a couple nice birdie putts in too. 

“You could say I missed one or two short opportunities but then I made up for it with one or two good par saves so I’m very pleased with the day. 

“To finish bogey free is not easy.  I had to make a slick little five-footer on the last there for my par.  That would have been a bit sour but make it I did and all in all I’m very happy with how I played my way around the course.”

After a couple of years in the golfing wilderness, a slump that saw the former Ryder Cup player slip to 230th in the World Ranking, Stenson is moreover thankful to be contending at the top level once again.

“I'm playing good golf, no question about it,” he continued. “I’ve just got to keep the old melon on and plod away and see where it takes us.

“There is still a long way to go but I'm just pleased to be up in another big event and be in a good position heading into the weekend.

“A lot of things can happen from hereon in, so I’ll just try to keep my head down, try my hardest and hopefully I'll be one of the guys who is still up there on Sunday afternoon.”

One behind fellow European Tour Members Marcus Fraser and Martin Kaymer at four under par is Spaniard Sergio Garcia, who is tied 13th on three under following a second round 68 which featured five birdies and three bogeys.

“It’s always great to finish with a birdie,” reflected Garcia. “But it’s actually been quite a hard week.  I’ve hit the ball very poorly but managed to more than anything putt very, very well and that's probably why I'm where I am. 

“So hopefully I can hit the ball a little bit better on the weekend because if I keep hitting it like this, it's going to be difficult to get away with it every single time.”

England’s David Lynn and Swedish debutant Jonas Blixt, meanwhile, are tied 15th on two under par with 36 holes to play in New York state.