Continuing his march toward a Down Under triple crown after winning the Australian Masters and PGA Championship, Adam Scott moved into a four-shot lead during Saturday’s third round.
Having followed a blistering first-round 62 with a 70, Scott bounced back with a 68 at Royal Sydney to move to 16 under – four shots ahead of Rory McIlroy, who hasn’t won this year. Scott said he might need to find top form again in order to win.
“Four shots is a slightly better buffer. It doesn’t mean that it can’t disappear quickly but it means they’ve got to do something to eat into the lead,” Scott told the Australian PGA.
A birdie at No. 18, where McIlroy made par, extended Scott’s lead despite a day in which the reigning Masters Tournament champion didn’t think he had his best game going.
“One round away and a lot can happen,” he told the Associated Press. “(There’s) a phenomenon behind me as well so I’m sure he’s going to throw plenty at me tomorrow.
“I’m going to have to do a couple of things better than I did today. But as long as the eye stays in with the putter, I should be able to hang on. To finish it off tomorrow would be an incredible way to end the year.”
McIlroy started bogey-double bogey before finding his form and carding a 70.
“It probably should have been a couple of shots better,” McIlroy said. “I feel like I left a couple out there on the back nine.
“I’m four back going into tomorrow. I’ve obviously got a tough job on my hands to try and catch Adam.”
Eight shots off the lead and T-3 are Australians Richard Green, Matthew Jones and Max McCardle. Former Australian Open champ Stuart Appleby shot 67 to move into T-6 alongside Scott Arnold, Nathan Holman and Leigh McKechnie.
Jason Day, who won the World Cup and partnered with Scott for the team title, shot 66 and is T-10 alongside Rhein Gibson, Ashley Hall and Bryden Macpherson.
But all eyes will be on Scott’s pursuit of an Aussie three-fer Sunday.
“To win my national championship tomorrow and then also win the three events down here is an unbelievable spot to be in,” Scott said. “If you’d told me that a month ago, I wouldn’t have believed you.
“Before this month started, I hadn’t won two tournaments in a row ever. So to have this opportunity is a bit unreal.”