Scott keeps his cool
Where so many of those on the leader-board had an up-and-down third day, Adam Scott remained on an even keel throughout. After tacking a 68 to opening rounds of 64 and 67, he goes into the fourth round four ahead of Brandt Snedeker and Graeme McDowell - and five clear of that man of 14 majors, Tiger Woods.
Though he had looked more than a little uncomfortable as he stood with one foot in the sand and the other outside it, he had advised his caddie, Steve Williams, "I can handle this."
Which was why, when he so nearly holed out, Williams purported to be surprised that the ball had failed to drop. "I thought you said you could handle it," said the caddie, dryly.
While Scott was steering clear of most of the trouble, Snedeker was finding it in abundance. Over the first two days, he had avoided all of the 206 bunkers. In his third round, he found out what they were all about...
He caught one at the first and another at the sixth where he had to play out backwards. Away from the traps, he had several excursions into the rough, while on the one occasion he had a good bounce - off a spectator - he proceeded to duff his chip.
Yet all was not lost. Though he had slipped from ten under to five under by the 14th, this likable competitor pinned down two birdies in his last three holes, making what seemed like a cross-Britain putt on the home green to a roar of applause.
McDowell arrived at his seven-under tally altogether differently. He had started the day at four under, dipped to three and, after turning in 34, had a homeward half in which was full of mounting excitement.The winner of the 2010 US Open has the bit between his teeth and there are plenty to suggest that he might prove no less of a threat to Scott than Woods.
Woods, who had a 70 to be lying on his own in fourth place at six under, headed straight to the practice ground at the end of what was obviously a frustrating day. His irons had gone close but not close enough, while his putter was not the magic wand it can be. That, though, is not to say that it will not ignite amid the mounting pressure.
Apart from his temperament, Scott's greatest weapons are the long putter he is wielding to such telling effect - and Steve Williams. The latter, who parted company with Woods just over a year ago, knows a thing or two about winning majors and he knows how to get the best out of Scott.
"Steve and I are getting on well," confirmed the leader. "He believes in the way I'm going about my business. He's a confident guy and his confidence can rub off.
"I'm excited for tomorrow and I truly believe I can go out and play a great round."
The saddest goings-on at the end of the third day concerned Paul Lawrie. The Scot, who was still one under par when he mounted the 18th tee, finished at two over after taking three putts from five feet and four in all. "I'm hitting 30-footers five to six feet past," said the player. "It was quite the worst I've ever putted in a tournament."
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