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April 7 2012

10:54 PM

A jacket chance with an 8?

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Henrik Stenson's last victory in the U.S. came at the 2009 PLAYERS Championship.
By Melanie Hauser, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent AUGUSTA, Ga. -- He's trying to win the Masters. With a snowman. And a double. And two eagles, 13 birdies and an assortment of seven bogeys, most of them seriously ill-timed. Sprinkle that over three rounds and Henrik Stenson has had enough ups and downs to send him straight to the therapist. No passing go. No changing shoes in the locker room. So how in the devil is he sitting at 4-under heading into the final round of the 2012 Masters just five shots back of close friend and leader Peter Hanson and with a shot -- assuming there are no more EKG spikes -- to win this darn tournament? He wonders too. "It's kind of exhausting every time you come off 18,'' said Stenson, who tied for 17th in both 2007 and 2008. "I mean, I'm mixing some really good stuff with some (crummy) stuff and making some nice putts and some great saves.  It's a bit of a mixed bag, but it's great to be out there on Saturday afternoon playing in front of these crowds. "Every time you kind of hit a good shot, you get the response.  So it's a great atmosphere out there and I'm looking forward to tomorrow.'' What's he got to lose? Or fear? "I'm not worried that the wheels are going to come off tomorrow because they have been off so many times already,'' he said "It's just fun to go out and try and make birdies and save myself out of impossible situations when they occur. I'll have a good time tomorrow.'' "At least I'm getting closer to breaking 70." There have been times this week when 70 was not even close -- from either side. He was either going to shoot in the 60s or head north toward 80. Nothing much in between.  Case in point? Round one when he was 5-under going into 18 and took an 8, better known as a snowman. Or Saturday when he's looking at going low and limps home with  bogeys at 13, 14 and 18. "I think it shows a lot about the fighting spirit,'' he said. Indeed. Every time you'd write him off, he'd bounce back onto the leader board. "I think i hit more fairways today,'' he said. "But then I hit a 9-iron and i can't get it on the green from 145 meters. . . I'd like to feel more confident, but I'm going to try to secure a spot and go out and try to stay patient.'' No matter what, he said, at least there are two Swedes going for the country's first major. He and Hanson -- "He's got a  solid game, he's a good iron player but the key for him this week is he's rolling the putts," Stenson said -- have competed against each other in Sweden since they were 18 or 19, he said. They started the amateur circuits together and now they're both at Augusta with a chance. So will he be trying to beat Hanson? Or be cheering for him? "A bit of both,'' he said. "You want to beat all the other guys, but we're friends. And we're both going after the same thing." Assuming Stenson can hold it together better than he has. "If you are within three or four shots entering the back nine, you are always going to have a chance,'' he said. "We'll see if we need to start take more chances.  But I can only do the best I can with whatever game I have.  If it's enough, it's enough.  But the way Peter and a few of the other guys are playing, it's going to be a tough day to beat them tomorrow.'' And, just so you know, Stenson hasn't ever won a tournament when he's made an 8. "I haven't made that many 8s,'' he said, grinning."Thankfully.''
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