The conditions have been favorable and Adam Scott has taken advantage. Many are surprised to know that this stellar player is yet to claim a major title in his career because it was just assumed he’d have one by now.
Scott is playing the course right. While he’s played his three rounds of 11 under at Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s, there hasn’t been extreme weather normally characteristic of the British Open. He’s taken risks when he’s had to and has found a way to mostly stay bunker free on a course that features 205. Even with Brandt Snedeker starting the day as the leader, Scott stayed calm and kept playing his game as Snedeker let the pressure get to him. Even with Tiger Woods still in contention, who left plenty of opportunities on the course rather than take advantage of them, Scott hasn’t let the threat of Tiger bother him. After all, Scott is swinging like Woods and is using his old caddie Steve Williams.
The one thing both guys are doing well is staying in the fairways for the most part. The key is striking with irons off the tee because guys that take out their woods or driver are generally going into the thick stuff or to the bunkers that are equivalent to mucks and trenches. These challenges will be heightened tomorrow as Scott’s degree of difficulty for winning will exponentially increase with wind gusts predicted to come in around 25 mph.
Graeme McDowell is currently tied for second in the tournament at seven under and feels that it is Scott’s tournament to lose.
“It will be in Adam’s hands tomorrow if the conditions are as straightforward as they have been the last few days,” McDowell said. ”Throw a bit of wind across this course like perhaps they are forecasting, he will have to go and work a lot harder and he will have to go win it.”
Recent history would suggest that Scott will not hold onto the lead as the last three players to lead after 54 holes in a major championship did not hold on to win. With a four shot lead, I can’t see Scott losing his first major championship for a few reasons.
1. The field will not catch up.
Even though Tiger Woods and Graeme McDowell have played well in majors in the past, what people fail to realize is they have to play in the same conditions as Scott. Snedeker plays to fast and doesn’t appear to understand the opportunity in front of him. Ernie Els misses far too many putts to be competing. Zach Johnson has had a week featuring great or shaky play, no consistency. The only way the field will get close is if Scott journeys to the bunkers far more often than his competitors or if he gets overly aggressive and lands himself in the tall grass.
2. He has Tiger blood in him, well at least his swing and caddie.
Scott has not only Tiger’s old swing coach, but also his old caddie. This will benefit Scott as they have had much success throughout their careers in majors with Tiger and can keep Scott calm if he appears to falter. Also, they know how to close out majors, something Scott hasn’t been able to do throughout his career. While Scott is the payer ultimately taking the shots, golf is somewhat of a team game often overlooked by fans because the golfers are so good at what they do, they don’t realize that the caddies and coaches play the courses to provide them tips and most are scratch golfers. This pair will no doubt benefit Scott.
3. He wants that first title.
While his emotions will be all over the place tomorrow, Scott wants this monkey off his back the same way LeBron James did before the Miami Heat won the NBA Championship. As long as he makes the putts he has to make, continue hitting fairways 73.8% of the time and maintaining is greens-in-regulation of 70.4% he will not falter. I don’t expect the low score of the day like Scott posted in round one tying the course record with a 64, but if he stays around 70 he won’t be stopped. Scott has to worry about his game and not worry about the leaderboard and the Claret Jug will be his.