Arnold Palmer Invitational: Adam Scott will take three-shot lead into final round at Bay Hill
Adam Scott will take a three-shot lead into the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational after a 71 on Saturday.
Last Updated: 23/03/14 8:16am
The Australian started the day with a commanding seven shot advantage after following his superb course record 62 on Thursday with a solid second round of 68.
But his lead had dwindled to just one stroke after five holes of his third round as the Masters champion dropped a couple of early shots and saw Chesson Hadley in the group ahead make four birdies in his first six holes.
Scott regrouped, though, and would record five birdies as he eventually carded a one-under 71 that left him on 15-under-par - three clear of closest challenger Keegan Bradley who shot a best of the day 66.
Matt Every matched Bradley's effort with a 66 of his own and finished one further adrift of Scott at 11-under, alongside fellow American Jason Kokrak (67).
Hadley ended up on 10-under after signing for a 69 and was joined on that mark by the leading European contender, Francesco Molinari of Italy (69).
Meanwhile, England's Ian Poulter is two shots further back after an entertaining 69 of his own that contained seven birdies and four bogeys.
Scott made a shaky start and bogeyed the first after three-putting from long range and had to save par on the next after missing the green with his tee shot, while Hadley holed from 15 feet on the second and three feet on the fourth for birdie.
Hadley knocked in an 18-footer for another birdie on the fifth to close the gap further and when Scott bogeyed the same hole minutes later after hitting his approach over the green, that gap was down to just two shots.
And remarkably the lead was cut to just a single stroke when Hadley - winner of the Puerto Rico Open recently - got up and down from over the green on the par-five sixth hole for his fourth birdie of the day.
Hadley was unable to maintain the momentum however and dropped a shot on the seventh when he failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker, allowing Scott's tap-in birdie on the sixth to take him three clear.
Further birdies on the 10th and 13th gave Scott a five-shot lead, and although he bogeyed the 14th, two more birdies on the 15th and 16th looked to be vital blows.
However, the 33-year-old failed to get up and down from the back of the 17th green and had to hole from six feet to avoid a bogey on the 18th for the third day running.
By contrast Bradley made birdie at 18 to give himself real hope of overhauling the long-time leader on the final day.
"I have been hitting the ball really nicely all week, all year really, but the last two days the putter has really gotten going which is a good sign," said Bradley, who birdied six holes in a back nine of 31, including 16, 17 and 18.
"I know tomorrow I am going to have to go out there and shoot a really low score because Adam is one of the best players in the world but that's what I live for. Tomorrow is one of the days you live for as a kid."