They say you live by the sword and you die by the sword. In Adam Scott’s case the sword is his putter, which cooled off a bit on Saturday as he saw his lead shrink to 3 shots in the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, Florida. Scott came into the third round leading by 7 strokes and saw it dwindle to one early in the round, only to right the ship and make two long birdie putts to salvage something before the afternoon was over.
Scott missed three par putts from inside eight feet, but still managed a 71 on the day to stand at 15-under par for three rounds. His main antagonist was Keegan Bradley, who put together 6 birdies on the back nine for a 6-under 66 and a 204 total—just three down heading into the final round on Sunday. It looked like it would be clear sailing for Scott, who started the day at 14-under, 7-strokes ahead of his nearest competitors. But after two bogeys in the first five holes, he found his lead had already been trimmed to one behind Chesson Hadley. Scott got a shot right back, though, on the par-5 6th with a birdie and held on to the lead at the Florida course for the rest of the day.
Bradley said he kind of liked “that underdog role” heading into the final round, and added that he was exciting to be playing in the final group with one of the “best players in the world” is something he and every other player dreams of. For Bradley, Saturday’s round might have qualified as a dream round too. Finishing the front nine with a pedestrian 1-under 35, he birdied three straight on the back to quickly improve to 10-under. A bogey on 13 was followed by two pars, and then birdies on 16, 17 and 18, where his 167-yard approach barely cleared the rocks of the water hazard and stopped 4 feet from the pin.
Keegan Bradley is not the only one with a chance to overtake Scott on Sunday. One more shot back at minus-11 are Matt Every, who equaled Keegan’s low round of the day with 66, and Jason Kokrak who had 67. Hadley and Francesco Molinari are another stroke back at 10-under par 206.
For Adam Scott, the only lead he wants is the lead after 18 more holes in Florida on Sunday afternoon at Bay Hill. He is currently second in the World Golf Rankings, and has a chance to take the number one rating away from Tiger Woods with a win. Woods had to withdraw from the Arnold Palmer Invitational earlier in the week because of back pain.
In other golf notes, doctors say Tiger Woods’ back pain is due to a bulging disc that will not require surgery. Woods is resting and recovering at his home in Jupiter, Florida, and it is still unclear whether he will be healthy enough to play in the Masters, which is now less than three weeks away.
Phil Mickelson has announced that he will play in the Texas Valero Open. The tournament is next weekend at the TPC course in San Antonio, Texas.
Commentary by Chuck Podhaisky
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