Friday, July 29, 2016

Stenson in position for a second consecutive major at the PGA


SPRINGFIELD, N.J. — When the condensed major schedule for this summer, designed to accommodate golf’s return to the Olympics, was announced, an exciting possibility emerged: A hot player could go on a six-week run in which he won the British Open, PGA Championship and Olympic gold in Rio.

Henrik Stenson won the Claret Jug at Royal Troon with the best major performance in history (at least as far as raw numbers go). Check.

Now, through 36 holes of the PGA Championship, Stenson is in position to perhaps check off the second step of a summertime trifecta that has never been accomplished in golf history.

Stenson backed up an opening 3-under 67 with the same score on Friday at Baltusrol’s Lower Course. At 6-under 134, he’s well within the mix going into the weekend.

“Of course I’m very happy to be able to follow up the success at Troon with a couple of strong rounds here and be in good position,” he said after the round. “We know it’s a marathon, not a sprint. It’s all about being there for Sunday afternoon, and so far, so good. You’re not winning anything on a Thursday and a Friday, but you can put yourself in the wrong direction early days.”

The 40-year-old opened with consecutive bogeys on the third and fourth holes of his round, but he was putting together good shots on Nos. 15, 16 and 17 before coming to the par-5 18th, his ninth hole of the day. Stenson hit a 3-wood approach that landed on the green and wound up within 3 feet of the tucked right-side hole location. The eagle freed up Stenson’s card, and he played in from there in 3 under par.

“It got me back to par for the round, and then I gave myself plenty of chances on the front nine and I took a few of them,” he said of the eagle. “Could have been a few more birdies, but greed is a terrible thing.”

Stenson knows his could crash at some point over the weekend, the product of winning a major and the opportunities and responsibilities that come with winning a major. After this, he’ll have the Olympic tournament in Rio. Then there’s the FedEx Cup playoffs and Ryder Cup. It’s a busy stretch from now until the first week in October, but Stenson is hoping he can manage day-by-day until then.

“I know I’m going to sleep for a week after The Ryder Cup, there’s no two ways about that. But it’s not something that I’m concerned about,” he said. “I’m just going to try and manage my time on the practice range and make sure I get plenty of rest and sleep.”

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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