7/21/2012

GMAC Keeps Leader Scott in Sight



For the second Major in a row Graeme McDowell goes into the final round playing in the last group out.

The 2010 US Open Champion, second in that event last month, is four behind Australian Adam Scott after a third round 67 at Royal Lytham & St Annes.

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.

While being in the final group did not work out as he hoped in San Francisco, it did at Pebble Beach two years ago.

The Northern Irishman, up into joint second with American Brandt Snedeker, came from three shots back on the final day to win the 2010 US Open and only last month was one putt away from forcing a play-off in the same event.

And then there is Tiger 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.

Taking advantage of Snedeker running into all sorts of problems following his Major-record-equalling first two rounds, 31 year old Scott moved to 11 under par and back out in front with a 68.

His 199 total is only one outside The Open Championship record set by Tom Lehman on the Lancashire links in 1996.

Snedeker had not been in a single bunker or registered a single bogey in his opening 36 holes - but it was not long before that all changed.

He three-putted the 219 yard fifth from just short of the green and then found sand with his approach to the next.

It cost him another dropped shot after he came out sideways and Scott's six straight pars were good enough to take him back into the lead he had held with his opening 64.

Both birdied the long seventh, but while Scott then added a 25 foot putt for another at the 416 yard eighth Snedeker ran up his third bogey after finding the rough.

That made the gap three and when it became four after Snedeker visited another bunker at the ninth, the Nashville golfer was not even second on his own.

Alongside him was Woods. Six back after bogeys at the first and third he re-ignited his bid with an outrageous 60 footer at the difficult sixth and followed with more birdies at the seventh and ninth.

Snedeker's day got worse when he ran up a six on the long 11th, but Scott was on in two and not far away from an eagle. The tap-in birdie swept him five clear.

He did bogey the next, but six closing pars kept 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.

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 Tournament champion Zach Johnson, who flew to Britain after capturing the John Deere Classic last Sunday.