Golf: Stenson hopes for sunnier Sunday at East Lake after he cuts Spieth's lead to one

Henrik Stenson reacts after putting on the 18th green during the third round of the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club.
Henrik Stenson reacts after putting on the 18th green during the third round of the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club.PHOTO: REUTERS

ATLANTA (REUTERS) - Henrik Stenson was looking forward to cleaning up and preparing for a brand new, dry day on Sunday to make one last stab at claiming his first PGA Tour title of the season and an extra US$10 million (S$14 million).

The 39-year-old Swede slid from three strokes up at the start to one shot behind Jordan Spieth after a second successive soggy day in the Tour Championship's third round at East Lake Golf Club.

"I think everyone's soaking wet and muddy and needs a good wash-up for tomorrow," said Stenson, who won the 2013 Tour Championship and FedExCup play-offs jackpot and can repeat the double with a victory on Sunday.

"Hopefully we can get some better weather. It was soaking wet fairways. We were playing the ball up (lift-clean-place), but even so you're still hitting shots out there where there's water underneath it and you could get some funny contacts."

Stenson had ruled at East Lake, the old home course of the late legendary Bobby Jones, before sinking from the lead late in the third round on a water-logged day.

He won wire-to-wire in 2013 and led each of the first two rounds in this edition before slipping back on Saturday with four bogeys and two birdies for 72.

"It was a grind and I didn't have my best day tee to green. Battling the swing a little bit, but still kept it together fairly nicely and we're still at the races," he said. "It's all going to be decided tomorrow."

Stenson, one of the best ball strikers in golf, stuck to his strategy of hitting three-wood off the tee instead of driver, sacrificing distance for accuracy in finding fairways.

But without any bounce and roll on the saturated turf, he was hitting long approaches through the heavy air and had trouble giving himself good birdie opportunities.

"No, it's still for me," he said about his three-wood strategy. "I feel like I need to hit the fairways and give myself the best chances, especially when I'm battling my swing a little bit."

Stenson, who has had three second-place finishes on the PGA Tour this year and another on the European Tour, tipped his cap to Spieth's sizzling finish.

"Jordan did really well coming in the last four holes," he said about Spieth, whose two birdies over that stretch lifted him to a 68.

"He made a good up-and-down for birdie on 15. And a miracle save on 16," Stenson said about the American's recovery after hitting his tee shot deep into woods on the right and leaving his punch-out in the rough short of the fairway.

"And then a good two-putt on 17. And a great birdie on the last."

Stenson might find comfort that a dry day is forecast for the final round. "Yeah, we're trailing by one. See if I can bring it back tomorrow."