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Scott's in Driver's Seat at Open Championship
Adam Scott shot his third straight round in the 60s to take a four-stroke lead heading into the final round of the Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England.
The 32-year-old Aussie has carded rounds of 64, 67 and 68 to reach 11-under 199. He'll be paired in the final round with 2010 U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell. The Ulsterman carded a 67 to get to 203 and is tied for second with 36-hole leader Brandt Snedeker.
"It was a pretty good, solid round today," said Scott. "I think 68 pretty accurately reflects the way I played. I certainly made a couple of nice putts. I may have left a few chances out there, but it was all pretty solid stuff, considering the circumstances and how much trouble there is on this golf course." (See below for his full post-round interview.)
After going bogey-free in the first two rounds, Snedeker, a Nashville resident, didn't play that well, carding six bogeys - including four on the front nine - against three birdies, two of which came on his last three holes, en route to a 73.
While everything went right early on for the Nashville resident, the opposite occurred Saturday. "Kind of one of those days where - very frustrating," Snedeker said. "Played very poorly on about as easy as we're going to see it. And I'm not happy with it at all, by any means.
"But those two birdies late salvaged what could have been a horrific round into a pretty awful round. So I've still got a chance tomorrow. I've come from behind before, I can do it again tomorrow. The conditions will be tough, which is good. So hopefully I can keep it going."
He'll be paired with Tiger Woods, who shot even-par 70 to get to 6-under 204 and five strokes behind Scott. Woods bogeyed two of the first three holes before pars on his next two holes and birdies on three of his last four holes on the front nine to make the turn in 1-under 33. All pars and a bogey on the par-5 15th brought Woods back to even-par on the day.
"It was not a very good start," Woods said. "I fought back and just didn't get anything going on that back nine. I thought I had a couple of good looks at some putts and didn't make them and misread the putt there at 15. But even par is about right . . . considering that I got off to such a bad start, I figured if I could get to 1 over par or even for the day through the turn, that would have been positive going into the back nine.
"And I actually happened to turn at 1 under for the day, which was a bonus. And as I said, I had a few looks on that back nine, just didn't make them."
Three-time major champion Ernie Els has enjoyed a good run at another Claret Jug. The South African shot a 2-under 68 to tie for sixth at 5-under 205 with Zach Johnson, who rebounded from Friday's 74 with a 66. "I did a lot of good things today, you know. I struck it nicely," said Els, the 2002 Open champion. "Gave myself many, many opportunities."
Johnson, who won last week's John Deere Classic, was philosophical about the difference between his second and third rounds. "One, it's golf. Two, it's the Open. And I think, three, you have pretty high expectations, although I don't like expectations. After a good round, you expect to go out there and do it again, especially after I birdied the first hole again yesterday. You felt like, okay, let's do it. And it's never that easy. It's never that easy.
"Today I felt much more relaxed, much more patient and never got too ahead of myself," said the Iowan. "Had a great time with Thomas Björn, who I've really always enjoyed playing with. And I just felt comfortable out there."
Thorbjorn Olesen continues to have a nice tournament. The 22-year-old Dane shot a 1-over 71 to take land in solo seventh at 206. One shot back are Bill Haas (68) and Thomas Aiken (71).
Three Americans - Bubba Watson (68), Mark Calcavecchia (69) and Matt Kuchar (72) - are tied for 10th at 208 with South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen (68), the 2010 British Open champion at St. Andrews.
Other scores included a 71 by No. 1-ranked Luke Donald, which took him to 1-under 209. No. 2-ranked Rory McIlroy slipped down the leaderboard into a tie for 64th at 5-over 215 after a 72, and third-ranked Lee Westwood had a 71 to go to 214.
After making the weekend cut, two former British Open champions - Tom Watson (76) and John Daly (77) - had a difficult time Saturday at Royal Lytham, with 54-hole totals of 219 and 220, respectively. The normally steady Martin Laird of Scotland, a two-time PGA Tour winner, had the toughest day of all, shooting a 12-over 82 to fall into last place at 221.
For all the scores, visit http://www.pga.com/openchampionship/scoring/leaderboard.
After signing his card, Scott met with reporters and discussed his chances for getting his first major title. Here's what he had to say.
MODERATOR: Adam, four shot lead going into the final round the Open Championship. Can you talk us through today's round, please.
ADAM SCOTT: It was a pretty good, solid round today. I think 68 pretty accurately reflects the way I played. I certainly made a couple of nice putts. I may have left a few chances out there, but it was all pretty solid stuff, considering the circumstances and how much trouble there is on this golf course.
Q. It was your highest stroke score of the week so far this week. In the circumstances don't you feel like it was your best round so far with those putts, as well?
ADAM SCOTT: I don't know. I think the first round I played pretty awesome. But I don't know what the lowest score of the day was. I don't think there was a really low one. The pins were very difficult today. It was hard to get really makeable putts on every hole, and you had to be a little bit careful. And I think I was very careful on the back nine with my putts. But that's what I felt I needed to do. I didn't need to take any risks out there. And par is a good score.
Q. A four shot lead, is it yours to lose now?
ADAM SCOTT: Well, four shot lead doesn't seem to be very much this year on any golf tournament that I've watched. That doesn't mean a lot. The good part is if I play a solid round of golf tomorrow, it will be very hard for the others to beat me, and that's all I'm thinking about.
Q. Are you at all relieved that you avoided the pairing with Tiger and maybe the circus that goes with it?
ADAM SCOTT: No, not really. I mean, I wouldn't - it wouldn't bother me. I've played with him a lot. And there was a circus out there today anyway. Steve actually warned me about how many people are inside the ropes late at an Open, and just having to wait a little longer for the people to walk across the green in front following the group in front today. So I don't think it would have bothered me at all. I would have been happy. I'm just happy to be in this position. To be honest, I'm really excited about tomorrow.
Q. You had a very tricky chip shot, pitch shot at your third on 17. And afterwards Steve seemed to have a little pep talk for you. I was wondering if you could share that exchange at all?
ADAM SCOTT: After the shot you mean?
ADAM SCOTT: Well, it wasn't really tricky, it's probably the smallest lip on any bunker on the golf course. He knew what I was thinking. I was kind of lining that one up thinking I might make it. And he was actually kind of having a go at me that I didn't make it, because I told him I think I can handle this one. And he said, I thought you were going to handle it. We were kind of both thinking the same thing, that I was going to make it.
Q. Brandt had a wild ride, steady and then a very bad patch, and then fought back. Can you comment a little bit on his day, please?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, he had a tough day I think around the turn and probably the holes where he was expecting to score well on, he got himself out of position a little bit and it compounded kind of quickly on him. But he's finished two birdies in the last three holes and he's given himself a chance tomorrow to play a good round of golf and be right there. So I'm sure he'd be slightly disappointed, but he's still in it.
Q. Of all the putts, can you talk about the ones on 1 and 3 in terms of what they meant to the rest of the round?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, 1 and 3 was huge. Just making some putts like that early in the round certainly frees you up and calms you down. I was nervous going to the tee today, excited but nervous. And to make a nice putt like that on the first and make a par is obviously very settling. And then to do the same thing on 3, that's been a hole that I haven't hadn't parred yet this week. So that was nice, too, and then from there on I was very settled into the round and started hitting fairways and greens.
Q. Looking forward to tomorrow, what is the greatest challenge, the boys behind you or the course in front of you, especially with some possible gusts for the first time all week?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, I think no matter what, the course is a big challenge out here. But it's a great leaderboard, too. It depends. We didn't see anyone go really low today, so that was kind of slightly comforting to me. But if I can play well, it will be hard for someone to shoot 63 or 64. Just depends how they set it up. They put the pins in tough spots the last two days.
Q. I think you're something like 16 out of 18 with converting third round leads in your wins. So maybe just talk about the comfort you feel about being in the lead. And is it a calming factor that you have a guy that's so relaxed and confident and has been on the bag when someone's won a lot of majors? How does that make you feel?
ADAM SCOTT: The first part, I guess I've got a pretty good record from having the lead. I was kind of saying yesterday in here that I think when I'm in the lead I'm playing well. So I should be confident going into tomorrow playing well. I just need to do all the same stuff I've been doing that's been effective, and it shouldn't really change just because it's Sunday. Obviously there's nerves and there's a finish line out there somewhere. But throughout my career somehow I've been able to handle that situation fairly well most of the time. Other than that, I can't really explain why, what else I feel. And sure, it's a benefit to have a guy like Steve, any experienced caddie on the bag. We're getting on really well out there, and he believes in the way I'm going about my business. And at some point tomorrow, I'm sure there's going to be a time when I'm going to lean on his experience and he's going to have some great advice for me on how to tackle a certain situation. And that's an advantage to have an experienced caddie like Steve.
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, I think he's such a positive guy, that's his way of looking forward in any situation. And like he has said before, I think it's his confidence, and that can rub off on the player, as well.
Q. The last couple of years, particularly about two years ago, there was so much attention about winning the Masters, winning a major, the only thing you hadn't done. Do you think this is now the time that you can break through?
ADAM SCOTT: Well, I certainly hope so. It would be incredible, but I don't really know. I don't even really want to think about it right now. But I'm really excited for what tomorrow holds. No matter what the result, it's going to be an incredible experience for me. And I truly believe I can go out and play a great round of golf, no matter what the conditions. And like I said, if I do that, then I think that makes it pretty hard for them to catch me.
ADAM SCOTT: Probably, yeah. That's really my only other time in contention late on a Sunday at a major. And I'll have to draw from that experience; that's what you do. Just like I'll try and draw from other times I've had a lead going into the last round of a tournament.
Q. I'm just wondering if you can describe in more detail how exciting it is to be in this situation right now, especially considering you want that first major so badly. What's going on deep inside of you? Do you think you're going to sleep well tonight?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, I don't have a problem sleeping. You can ask anyone who knows me that I can put in some hours. No, I'm really excited. It's fun just to get in this position, really. It's what I've been practicing for. We'll see if the practice pays off or not. That's all I think about, all I can say at the moment. I don't know what to expect tomorrow. I've not really teed off the last group of the Open before. I'm sure I'm going to be nervous, but it's good nerves and I'm excited. I'm playing well. I'm looking forward to the round; that's really how I feel. I'm just looking forward to getting out there tomorrow.
Q. Is it fair to say that linking with Steve Williams as a caddie and switching to the long putter are the two biggest decisions you've made in your career?
ADAM SCOTT: I don't know how to rank decisions you make. There's certainly been some good timing with decisions in the last couple of years. I was very fortunate on the timing with Steve. As for the long putter, that decision had to be made, I think, at some point. But everyone makes big decisions at some point, and they're just two recent ones. I don't know if I can't rank them per se.
Q. Tomorrow it's expected that the wind is going to blow pretty significantly in the afternoon. How do you think that will impact on you?
ADAM SCOTT: Well, it's going to be different conditions than we've faced for the last three days, that's for sure. It's been quite incredible, really, how still it's been here for three days. But I think I'll just have to draw back on when I was here last Friday, Saturday and Sunday playing in some windy conditions. Even Monday, Tuesday, as well, to kind of remember the clubs and the shots and how much the wind affects the ball. I might have to make some changes in the style of shots we're hitting. And certainly if it's good weather, it will firm the course up. The course was firmer again today, so the ball will get running. But just little adjustments you'll have to make. But I think with the way I prepared at the start of the week, I said I felt I had a pretty good understanding of how this golf course can be played in all conditions.
Q. I have one quick one regarding the wind. I heard a few people talking about your ball flight. Do you have to change that at all, because you have a fairly high ball flight, if it does get windy here? Does that affect you in any way?
ADAM SCOTT: Well, I actually don't think I have a very high ball flight. I can hit it high, but my normal ball flight is not very high. If it's very windy, yeah, you've got to bring the ball down a little bit. And guys - everyone does that a little bit differently. So the warm-up on the range tomorrow certainly could be just getting a feel for how it is to move the ball back an inch or two in the stance, if it is windy.
MODERATOR: Thanks for your time, and wish you all the best.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.
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