SYDNEY (Reuters) - Adam Scott birdied the last two holes of a marathon Saturday to snatch a two-shot lead after the third round of the Australian Open at the New South Wales course.

Scott went out early to finish off the last 12 holes of his second round, which was left incomplete after heavy winds on Friday, with a 66, then returned after lunch to shoot a 67 for the third round.

His three round total of 15-under-par 201 left him with a two stroke lead over the 2001 Australian open champion Stuart Appleby, who carded a third round 71.

"For an Aussie it's like the next major," he told reporters.

"It'd mean a lot to me at any point but I think it'd be great coming off a pretty ordinary year. If I had the chance to win I'd certainly savor it for a while."

Scott went 39 holes without dropping a shot before he threw away his advantage with bogeys at the 15th and 16th holes.

However, he recovered with two late birdies to regain the outright lead and set the stage for a two-way battle with Appleby Sunday.

"It was great to see us both go out there and play good today," Scott said.

"We're a fair way out in front and it could be us getting the gloves off and having a bit of a ding-dong tomorrow."

(Reporting by Julian Linden; Editing by Peter Rutherford.)