Lytham St. Annes, England – Adam Scott posted a 2-under 68 on Saturday to take the third-round lead of The Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
Scott finished 54 holes at 11-under 199 and will take a 4-shot lead into Sunday in pursuit of his first major championship. His three-round total fell short of Tom Lehman's Open scoring record by a single stroke.
"I feel pretty good," Scott said in a televised interview. "It was a good day's work. I hung in there well on the back nine. Very pleased to be in this position."
Graeme McDowell will be in the final pairing on Sunday for the second consecutive major. The runner-up at last month's U.S. Open, McDowell posted a 3-under 67 and is tied for second with second-round leader Brandt Snedeker, who overcame some mid-round woes with a birdie at the last for a 3-over 73.
The pair came in at minus-7.
Tiger Woods didn't get much going on the back nine Saturday. He managed an even-par 70 and is fourth at 6-under par, five behind Scott. Woods has never come from behind in the final round during any of his 14 major championship victories.
"I didn't make anything," Woods said in a televised interview. "It's still the same process. I have to go out there and execute my game plan. When you're behind, you have to make birdies.
"We don't know what it's going to be like tomorrow. It's supposed to blow, but they haven't got the forecast right yet. I have to go out there and shoot an under-par round. Adam's got a 4-shot lead. He's sitting in a good spot."
Zach Johnson, who won last week's John Deere Classic, fired a 4-under 66 and is tied for fifth with 2002 Open Champion Ernie Els, who carded a 2-under 68 on Saturday. They finished at 5-under 205.
Scott was brilliant on Saturday, playing a consistent, strong game. He hit fairways, hit to the safe spots on the greens and putted well. The Aussie notched three birdies and a single bogey in round three, and now only 18 holes separate him from a major title that has eluded him throughout his career.
Scott has won six of the eight times he's held at least a share of the 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour, but this is not any old regular event.
"Four shots is not a big lead. That can vanish quickly in the space of a couple holes," Scott told ESPN. "But I've experienced that in other tournaments. I have to treat it like that I guess."
Scott didn't have to do anything special to take the lead, other than make par. He opened with six in a row, and it was Snedeker's stumbles that moved Scott in front.
Snedeker made his first bogey of the championship at the fifth when he missed a 5-footer for par. He found his first bunker all week at the next hole, leading to another bogey.
Scott reached the par-5 seventh in two and 2-putted from 25 feet for a birdie. Snedeker birdied the hole as well to stay one behind.
The eighth proved to be a swing hole. Scott poured in a 30-footer for birdie, while Snedeker went through the green with his approach and couldn't save par. Scott was three in front, and Snedeker's descent continued.
The second-round leader, Snedeker bogeyed the ninth, 11th and 14th holes to sag down the board.
Scott appeared to be in trouble at 10. He drove into one of the 206 bunkers at Royal Lytham and was forced to pitch back into the grass. From 94 yards, Scott hit his third 20 feet by the stick, but he holed the clutch par save and was four clear.
"It was huge," admitted Scott of his putt at 10.
Scott birdied the par-5 11th and was five in front, but now, the man immediately behind him was Woods. The three-time Open Champion, who birdied Nos. 6, 7 and 9, stayed closest to Scott thanks to all pars on his back nine.
Scott had a little hiccup at the 13th when he missed a 3-foot par save. His margin was trimmed to four, but Woods also failed on a short par putt at the 15th.
McDowell made his move with birdies at 13, 14 and 17. That last one got him to 7-under and within four of the lead, which is as close as anyone would get.
Scott found a greenside bunker at 17, but blasted out to a foot. He saved par, then left his 18-foot birdie putt short at 18. Scott tapped in, and now it's one more night's sleep until a possible first major title.
"I think it's a good position," Scott said on TV. "If I play a solid round of golf, it makes it very difficult for the other guys. It's a long round, a lot can happen."
Thorbjorn Olesen, the young Dane who played with Woods on Saturday, bogeyed the last for a 1-over 71. He is alone in seventh at minus-4.
Bill Haas (68) and Thomas Aiken (71) share eighth at 3-under 207.
NOTES: Scott owns 8 PGA Tour titles and 8 European Tour titles. He hasn't won since the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational last year...World No. 1 Luke Donald shot a 1-over 71 and is tied for 14th at 1-under par...Rory McIlroy struggled to a 3-over 73 and shares 64th at plus-5.