Overnight joint leader Stenson was just two shots off the lead until he three-putted his final two holes to card a 74 and fall four behind Masters champion Jordan Spieth and his Ryder Cup partner Patrick Reed.
“The way we’re playing this course in the afternoon compared to the morning, it’s borderline laughable at some of the greens and some of the pin positions, when we’re actually almost better off plugged in a bunker than being on the top of a ridge, like on the fourth,” Stenson said.
“And it’s pretty much like putting on broccoli, as well. If you’re doing any good in this championship you’re playing late in the afternoon and it’s going to be more like we had today. So it’s obviously good practice for the next couple of days.”
“I kind of lost my patience on the eighth more than anything and hit a lovely shot into nine and was putting down on something that looked like the surface of the moon.”
The halfway cut fell at five over par and meant Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Colin Montgomerie all survived right on the mark, Garcia having been heckled as he three-putted the 18th and Montgomerie dropping three shots in his last four holes in a 76.
World number one Rory McIlroy had threatened to get into contention when he eagled the 12th and birdied the 15th, only to four-putt the 17th and drop another shot on the last.
A second consecutive 72 left McIlroy four over par but at least meant the 26-year-old avoided a third straight missed cut, but defending champion Martin Kaymer missed out by a single shot after a 74 which featured a triple-bogey seven on the 10th.
Phil Mickelson also shot 74 to finish three over, one shot behind 2013 champion Justin Rose and fellow Englishman Lee Westwood, who shot 69 despite a triple-bogey seven on the 18th.