The Irish Mail on Sunday
Double Nordic joy is on the cards as Rory is left chasing anotherDane
THOMAS BJORN and Henrik Stenson have the chance to complete the greatest day in the history of Scandinavian men’s golf at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
While the former is in pole position to claim the tour’s flagship title today and the biggest prize of his distinguished career, the latter has an opportunity to realise a dream and become the first man from one of the Nordic countries to be hailed world No 1.
Bjorn hailed his opening round of 62 as the greatest he had ever played but the manner in which he fought back from a horrific start to post a third-round 67 was also stunningly impressive.
No-one would have given him a prayer of such a score when he opened with a double bogey and stood two over par for his efforts after 10 holes. He looked thoroughly out of sorts.
Then came one of those periods ‘in the zone’ that all players crave but are all too rare in the careers of even the game’s finest.
Bjorn dug deep and foraged no fewer than six successive birdies from the 11th to open up a fivestroke lead over Luke Donald (68) and take a stranglehold of the event.
As for Stenson, basically he has to finish higher than current world No 1 Adam Scott, who is playing in the Colonial Invitational on the PGA Tour, which could go to the wire. Stenson is tied seventh after a late birdie charge, while Scott is 11th in America. If it stays like that, Stenson will be No 1.
Bjorn, though, at the age of 43, is playing perhaps the finest golf of his career. He can seal his place in Europe’s Ryder Cup team today and strengthen his grip on the Race to Dubai to make it vice-like.
Why this Indian summer? ‘Hard work and a determination not to let a golf career fade away,’ he said. As for Rory McIlroy, he is still in the picture but at seven off the lead, will certainly need to go low today to catch the pacemaker.
Like Bjorn, McIlroy recovered from a calamitous doublebogey six at the first to shoot a 69 and showed wonderful powers of resolve for which he is not always known. After the first half of the week was dominated by the revelation of his split from Caroline Wozniacki, it’s rather ironic that the man he has to chase down to complete what would be a remarkable victory just happens to be a Dane.
Ultimately a fine day’s golf ensued but the patience of the 20,000 spectators who braved the elements was certainly tested during a three-hour delay to start the day.
Eventually they trudged through the mud and got their reward, with local heroes Anthony Wall and Eddie Pepperell giving their home supporters plenty to shout about.
Wall shot 67 and 23-year-old Pepperell a 68 to move into the top ten.