Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fraser Leads Olympic Golf, but Stenson Is in the Medal Hunt

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fraser Leads Olympic Golf, but Stenson Is in the Medal Hunt

Article excerpt

RIO DE JANEIRO * British Open champion Henrik Stenson is close enough to think about adding an Olympic gold medal to his silver claret jug.

It just required a long and wild route to get himself into contention Friday.

Marcus Fraser of Australia got off to a quick start, stretched his lead to four shots at one point and wound up with a 2-under 69 for the 36-hole lead in the first Olympic golf competition since 1904. He had a one-shot lead over Thomas Pieters of Belgium, a former NCAA champion who closed with three straight birdies.

Still, it was the sight of Stenson on the leaderboard that was so hard to ignore.

Only a month ago, the 40-year-old Swede won his first major and got his name on the claret jug at Royal Troon with the lowest score in major championship history. On Friday, he had a 68 to go into the weekend at Olympic Golf Course just two shots behind and in the final group.

But this was hardly a masterpiece.

In the wind and a hard rain, Stenson had to hit 4-wood to reach the green on the second hole and made a 60-foot birdie putt. He hit into the water on the next hole and still had a full 4-wood just to reach the front part of the green. Stenson made a par putt from 108 feet.

"You're just standing there, praying for a two-putt bogey. Before I know it, it found the bottom of the cup," Stenson said. "That's the longest putt I've made in my career. First of all, it's hard to get a putt that long on any green in the world."

He followed by duffing a tee shot and making bogey, and it was a relief to play what he called ordinary golf until another wild finish.

Stenson had a three-putt bogey, followed by two birdies, and then a tee shot he missed so badly that it came up 30 yards short and into a bunker for a bogey on the par-3 17th. He finished his round with a delicate pitch from a drop area, but only after his caddie had to ask Brazilian fans in the bleachers around the 18th green to move 20 feet because their shadows were dancing around his golf ball. …

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