By Brian O’Hare
ADAM SCOTT is just 18 holes away from a perfect finish to a glorious year.
Scott will take a four stroke lead into the final round of the 2013 Emirates Australian Open where not only his second Stonehaven Cup awaits but an historic single season triple crown.
The Aussie battled arch rival Rory McIlroy in near perfect conditions in front of huge Saturday afternoon crowds at Royal Sydney in scenes that will no doubt be repeated on Sunday.
Scott took a two stroke lead into the third round and after both golfers birdied the first hole there was a see-sawing struggle for the next 17.
Neither golfer would say they are in the greatest of form but the world #2 and former world #1 certainly know how to scramble.
There were two decisive putts on the final hole where both put their approach shots within feet.
While Scott sank his birdie attempt McIlroy missed – a not uncommon occurrence for him throughout his round.
Scott admitted later having the four stroke buffer going into the final round was a huge advantage.
The reigning US Masters champion finished with a 4-under 68 to be sitting on 16-under for the tournament. McIlroy (70) is on 12-under with Matthew Jones (72), Richard Green (73) and Max McCardle (69) tied for third on 8 –under.
“Well it is an exciting position to be in,” Scott said after his round. “Obviously a great chance to win my national championship tomorrow and then also win the three events down here; which is an unbelievable spot to be in. If you’d told me a month ago, I wouldn’t have believed you. One round away but a lot can happen. It’s a phenomenon behind me playing as well, so I’m sure he’s going to throw plenty at me tomorrow. It’s going to be an exciting day. I’m going to have to do a couple of things better than I did today I think but as long as the eye stays in with the putter I think I should be able to hang on.”
Scott said he knew there was a long way to go and “chipping out and punching out from under trees is not how you win golf tournaments on the Sunday.”
The 36 year old said until a month ago he had never won two tournaments in a row – let alone three.
“Well, before this month started I hadn’t won two tournaments in a row, ever. So there were no facts to back up that it would be a certainty that I would be sitting here in this position. To have this opportunity is a bit unreal.
“I talked about the possibility of it because Robert [Allenby] has done it. But it’s a lot of golf to play well. It’s great to see. It’s just a confidence thing for me, just keep building the confidence and to be putting myself in this position week after week, keeps confirming to me I’m on the right track with what I’m doing with my game and to finish it off tomorrow would be an incredible way to end the year. It would be sad if I didn’t finish it off tomorrow”
“A sad way to end an incredible year,” he laughed.
McIlroy believes the four shot lead is far from insurmountable.
“No, definitely not and definitely not on this golf course where there can be a lot of two shot swings, even the first couple of holes, if someone makes a couple of pars and somebody gets off to a flying start and makes a birdie and an eagle, you’re right back in it,” the Northern Irishman said.
“There are plenty of chances out there, it’s just a matter of taking the opportunities when they come.”2013 Emirates Australian Open Leaderboard