Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Scott four clear at Royal Lytham

Adam Scott walks with his caddie Steve Williams during day three of the 2012 Open Championship

Less than a year after hiring golf's most successful caddie in a bid to end his long wait for a first major title, Australian Adam Scott hopes he is just 18 holes from achieving his dream at Royal Lytham.

But, even though he holds a four-stroke lead going into the last leg of the Open Championship, the 31-year-old knows the toughest part is still to come, despite having Tiger Woods' former caddie Steve Williams on the bag.

Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell, up into joint second with Brandt Snedeker after a superb 67, came from three shots back on the final day to win the 2010 US Open. And then there is Woods one stroke further back in fourth place. He senses a chance to grab his fourth Claret Jug and 15th major four traumatic years after he last tasted success at the highest level.

Williams, who helped Woods win 13 of his 14 majors before being sacked last summer, made no secret of how angry he was about that after staying with Woods throughout his sex scandal and when Scott won a world championship last August he called it "the best win of my life".

Then three months later at a caddie awards dinner in China Williams aimed what he later admitted could be construed as a racist comment about his former boss. They have done battle face-to-face since then in the Presidents Cup, with one win for each of them, but not in a major.

Taking advantage of Snedeker running into all sorts of problems following his major-record-equalling first two rounds, Scott moved to 11 under par and back out in front with a 68. His 199 total is only one outside the championship record set by Tom Lehman on the Lancashire links in 1996.

Scott finished his round with six straight pars to keep him in firm control and on course to become Australia's first winner of the title since Greg Norman in 1993 and their first major champion since Geoff Ogilvy at the 2006 US Open.

The leader said: "A four-shot lead doesn't seem to be very much this year on any golf tournament that I've watched. 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."

McDowell was only level par for the day with six to play, but then birdied the 13th, 14th and 17th to earn himself a head-to-head with Scott. It is the second major running where he has been in the final group on the final day after his second place at the US Open.

Snedeker rallied with two birdies in the last three for a 73 that pushed Woods down to fourth - and it ought to be remembered that he has never come from behind to win a major yet. Joint fifth are 2002 winner Ernie Els and former Masters champion Zach Johnson, who flew to Britain after capturing the John Deere Classic last Sunday.

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