Former Masters champion Adam Scott once again eagled the final hole to leapfrog Poland’s Adrian Meronk into the lead after the third round of the Australian Open in Melbourne on Saturday.
Just as he did in Friday’s second round, the world number 36 Scott eagled-putted the 18th to finish three-under 67 for 11-under 201.
Scott, the 2014 US Masters champion, played conservatively on the testing Victoria Golf Club sandbelt course to finish with an eagle, two birdies and a bogey.
“It’s a good way to finish the round and put myself in that final group and have a lead going into tomorrow’s final round,” Scott said.
“I was happy with the way I played, it was the most solid of the three days so far.
“But you’ve got to be careful playing around the sandbelt, I played pretty safe and had to wait for my chances and had a good finish.”
While Scott was well in contention for his second national open title, world number three and British Open champion Cameron Smith missed the 54-hole cut and will not play in Sunday’s final 18 holes.
The tall Meronk had looked set to go into the clubhouse as the third round leader before Scott’s late intervention with his broomstick putter just off the green.
Meronk began his round spectacularly with six birdies in his opening eight holes, before finishing with nine birdies and two bogeys and a seven-under 63 to be 10-under 202.
“I feel really good about my game. I got familiar with the course so I’m going to enjoy tomorrow,” Meronk said.
“I know if I play like I did today I can shoot really low scores. I’ll just focus on that and that’s all I can do. Hopefully it’ll be enough at the end of the day.”
It has been a lacklustre week for Smith, his one-under 69 was his only sub-par round, and he missed the secondary cut, which was something rare to him, especially in a stellar 2022.
Smith has recorded six career wins and earned more than US$10 million in prize money, to go with his estimated US$100 million cheque for joining the Saudi-backed LIV golf.
“I thought I had it in me today and hit lots of good golf shots, and just couldn’t really capitalise,” Smith said.
“I kept hitting good putts and they just weren’t going in. Yeah, just not my week. But it is what it is.”
In the adjoining women’s tournament also staged at the Victoria Golf Club, South Korea’s Jiyai Shin led reigning Women’s British Open champion Ashleigh Buhai of South Africa by one shot after a five-under 67.
Jiyai fired seven birdies and a double-bogey to be 14-under 203 after 54 holes, while Buhai carded six-under 66, studded with seven birdies.