Henrik Stenson channels some of that Troon magic with opening 67 in PGA

Henrik Stenson channels some of that Troon magic with opening 67 in PGA

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Henrik Stenson channels some of that Troon magic with opening 67 in PGA

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SPRINGFIELD, N.J. – In his first competitive round since winning the British Open on July 17, Henrik Stenson finds himself back in contention in another major championship.

Stenson birdied three of his last seven holes Thursday to shoot 3-under 67 in the PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club’s Lower Course. He stands tied for fifth, two strokes behind leader Jimmy Walker.

Stenson extended his streak of major-championships rounds in the 60s to seven, dating to the final round of the Masters. (He withdrew during the second round of the U.S. Open, citing “minor neck and knee issues” in a tweet, after opening with a 69.) In those seven rounds, highlighted by his closing 63 to win at Royal Troon, Stenson has recorded three eagles and 37 birdies.

“I thought I played a very solid round,” Stenson said of his five-birdie, two-bogey performance. “I wasn’t in too much trouble at any time. Hit a lot of fairways, a lot of greens and gave myself some good chances. Maybe felt like a slight lack of preparation on the putting green this week was showing up on a few occasions, but all in all, I think I putted OK, and I made the most of the ones I needed to make.”

Playing in an afternoon wave in slightly lower temperatures, the Swede had to contend with breezier conditions that made club selection a little more difficult. Stenson needed 31 putts on the bentgrass-Poa annua greens that became bumpier in the afternoon.

“That makes it harder to get it tight,” Stenson said. “Even if you hit a good one shot, you might not get the wind right. You had to give yourself some more margin and stay patient, and I think I did that very well out there.”

With a short turnaround – he will tee off at 8:30 a.m. Friday with U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson and Masters champion Danny Willett – Stenson will have little time to work on his putting.

The greens also could change for the second round if the wet conditions forecast into the morning materialize.

Stenson, No. 5 in the Official World Golf Ranking, knows those issues are minor now that he has proved himself in a major championship.

“With more time, it made it easier to recharge, but at the same time, I feel I can carry that momentum I had at the Open Championship,” he said. “I guess the start shows that we’re not too far away when we teed it up again.”

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