Adam Scott will start the final round of the 147th Open Championship just five shots in arrears of the leaders but knows “anything can happen in the final round” of a major.
The Queenslander fired a third round three under 68 to move to four under and has a share of 12th place heading into Sunday. With winds predicted to gust up to 35km an hour, Carnoustie will show significantly more bite than it has so far in this championship, which brings all the players five, six and even seven shots from the lead into contention.
Scott is one of those players.
“You just never know what might happen tomorrow. If it gets tricky or even if it doesn't, one really good round could go a long way,” Scott said.
“If it's windy … either way, I have to have an amazing round to get myself in it. I don't know whether I want a lot of wind maybe. It could get trickier.
“I'm just going to have to find that great round of golf. I like we saw today through the first seven or eight holes, you can really put four or five on it and set yourself up, if you can survive the back nine.
“It's just tough, the back nine. It just doesn't give you much.”
The 38-year-old could have been coming from further back in the pack if not for a superb birdie two on the difficult par-3 16th and an outstanding par at the last having driven into deep rough off the tee. In those closing three holes he turned a disappointing 70 into a hard fought 68 and a chance at winning The Open.
“Making par on the last after being in trouble off the tee was good, because you just never know what might happen tomorrow,” said Scott, who was going to risk trying to carry Barry Burn and hit the green from the deep rough but decided to lay-up instead.
“At first I was going to the green, but then I was committed to it, and I stood over the ball and remembered guys hitting it in the creek yesterday when I was watching on the telly, and I thought, if I do that, that's my tournament over probably. If I want to have a chance, I've just got to figure out a way to make a 4 here and a 5 at worst. So just chipped it down the fairway.”
It proved the correct decision as he made his par with a good pitch and a short putt.
Of the seven Australians who made the halfway cut, Scott is the only genuine chance of seriously contending for the Claret Jug.
Young Victorian Lucas Herbert will start seven shots back of the lead after he conjured up a two under 69 to be two under for the tournament. Three bogies were more than offset by three birdies and an eagle during his impressive display.
The 22-year-old is playing in just his second major championship and already looks like he thrives on the big stage. His ball-striking has improved gradually day-by-day and if he can shoot another round in the 60s on the final day he will cement a top-20 major finish.
Marc Leishman also carded a two under 69 to get back to even par and he will start the final round in a share of 40th place. Carnoustie’s back nine has been the big Victorian’s undoing this week, having made just three birdies thus far and handing nine shots back on the inward half.
Former World No.1 Jason Day had a third round 72 to fall back to one over and has not made enough birdies in this championship to be a contender.
Brett Rumford (72), Cameron Davis (73) and Cameron Smith (73) will be out in the early groups and are likely to have the best of the weather conditions. If they can post a low number early they an easily climb into a top-25 major finish position.