ROCHESTER, New York: Jonas Blixt, who birdied after his tee shot landed in a man’s pants, and British Open runner-up Henrik Stenson will vie to become Sweden’s first male major golf champion on Sunday (Monday in Manila).
The Swedes tee off together in the penultimate pairing at the 95th PGA Championship at Oak Hill, with Stenson on seven-under par 207, one stroke ahead of Blixt and two back of US leader Jim Furyk, the 2003 US Open winner.
While Annika Sorenstam was a superstar in women’s golf, no Swedish man has won a major title. Both Blixt and Stenson seek the honor for themselves and their nation.
“We’re definitely increasing the chances with having two guys up there. We’re going out there and try our best,” said Stenson, who was second to Phil Mickelson three weeks ago at the British Open at Muirfield.
“It would be lovely. But we’re a long ways from that. There’s no point thinking ahead of things. It’s going to be a big challenge again tomorrow to keep the mind in the right place. If I can do that I hope I have a chance on the back nine.
“But it’s a pretty packed leaderboard. There are going to be a few guys with a good chance. So no point thinking about the future.”
Stenson, also a runner-up at last week’s World Golf Championships event, wants to put himself in position for a back-nine title threat as he did at Muirfield.
“It’s all about going out there and staying in the game,” said Stenson. “When the back nine comes, hopefully I’m up there with a chance. We’ll see how the chips fall. I’m just excited to be in this position again and within striking distance.”
Blixt, whose four-under par 66 was the lone bogey-free round on Saturday, is trying not to imagine what it would be like to win the crown either.
“Try not to think that way,” Blixt said. “Then you get caught up in stuff that you shouldn’t think about. I try to always downplay it. I know it’s a major and it’s huge and it’s one of my goals to win one, but if I start thinking about that stuff, I can probably pack my bags and go home tonight.
“I would definitely really love to win one for Sweden and for myself. That would be huge. It’s a very small country. There are a lot of golfers from there. You set up your goals high and that’s a very high goal for both me and Henrik. To win one would be very, very special.”
Blixt made the shot of the tournament at the 18th hole when his tee shot struck spectator Muhammad Khokar, who lives near the course.
The ball fell into a rear pocket of Khokar’s trousers.
Blixt played on, put his approach three feet from the cup and made an unlikely birdie.
“I never saw anything like that,” Blixt said. “It was very fortunate that he was standing where he was so I didn’t have to deal with too many trees and stuff like that. Hit a good 5-iron, got a lucky bounce up the hill and trickled to three feet.”