Column: 2 Swedes walk into a major championship
PITTSFORD, N.Y. (AP) - No chance you've heard this one before: Two Swedish guys go off in the next-to-last pairing in the final round of the PGA Championship and ...
One of them wins a major.
"We're definitely increasing the chances with having two guys up there rather than one," Henrik Stenson said.
"Or," he added a moment later, "none."
Hard to argue with that.
Stenson and Jonas Blixt will try to do something Sunday at Oak Hill that none of their countrymen have ever accomplished, but countrywoman Annika Sorenstam did 10 times. Stenson, who shot 69 in the third round and was at 7 under, will tee off two shots behind leader Jim Furyk. Blixt, who carded a 66 and might have locked up the shot-of-the-tournament title with his approach into No. 18, will start three behind.
Despite Saturday's bogey-free result, Blixt knows one thing in his pre-round routine that's definitely going to change.
"I drank coffee in the morning and got really jacked up," he recalled. "No coffee tomorrow."
You wouldn't know it by watching any Ingmar Bergman films, but some Swedes are funny. Stenson, for instance, famously stripped down to nothing but his skivvies and a golf glove in a tournament three years ago to play a shot from a water hazard. After the video went viral, he was asked a day later what the reaction had been.
"A lady in the crowd said if that's what watching golf is about, she's going to start watching a lot more," he deadpanned.
When the questioner persisted, insisting that someone must have expressed some disapproval, Stenson pointed in the direction of his wife, Emma, who happened to be holding their 1-year-old daughter at the time.
"We see him in his boxers all the time," she said, just as nonplussed.
Blixt's excellent adventure at the 18th had its comical element as well. His tee shot veered well left of the fairway, bounced and found the back pocket of a spectator named Muhammad Khokar. After Blixt arrived on the scene to find a crowd gathered around Khokar and was told what happened, his response- "Did it plug?"- cracked up the informal get-together.
"I never did anything like that," Blixt explained in the interview room afterward. "A friend of my father hit someone in the ass one day. The first thing that came out of his mouth: `Did it plug?' So it's kind of where I got the line from.
"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.
"And thank you," Blixt added, "hat's off to someone who did that to me."
Stenson had plenty of fun in the interview room, too, teasing reporters who asked about his age ("I guess my looks are a bit deceiving; I'm 37") and added bulk ("Are you saying I'm fat?"). He also recounted in detail how just two years ago, in the middle of a career drought, he failed to qualify for the PGA and played in his club's two-man team championship back in Sweden instead.
"I was up in contention there, as well," he said. "I didn't win."
"The other guys have got to be telling quite a story," a reporter reminded him.
"Yeah," Stenson said, "I saw it as a kind gesture to give him a bit of confidence."
Yet both men did their best to tamp down speculation about what it would mean back home to have either return home with a major championship trophy.
"That would be huge. I mean, it's a very small country," Blixt said. "You set your goals high and that's a very high goal for both me and Henrik."
Echoed Stenson, "It would be lovely, but we're still a long ways away from that. There's no point thinking about tomorrow and thinking ahead of things."
Yet reporters kept asking, one even trying an emotional appeal to Blixt.
"Did something go through your heart when you saw how excited Adam (Scott) was to become the first Aussie to win a Masters?" he asked.
"Well," Blixt replied with a hint of a smile, "Adam doesn't really do it for me."
Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jlitke(at)ap.org and follow him at http://twitter.com/JimLitke
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