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Adam Scott leads from Graeme McDowell at The Open at Royal Lytham

Updated: Saturday, 21 Jul 2012 20:07

Adam Scott posted a two-under 68 to lead The Open going into the final day at Royal Lytham & St Annes
Adam Scott posted a two-under 68 to lead The Open going into the final day at Royal Lytham & St Annes

Graeme McDowell sits four shot off leader Adam Scott going into the final round of The Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes on Sunday.

The Portrush man, who shares second place with American Brandt Snedeker after a superb 67, came from three shots back on the final day to win the 2010 US Open.

Tiger Woods is one stroke further back in fourth. Padraig Harrington sits on two over par, while Rory McIlroy is three shots further back on five over par.

McDowell finished second, just one shot behind champion Webb Simpson, as he sought a second US Open crown in San Francisco last month, but now aims to go one better and follow in the footsteps of last year's Open champion and fellow Ulsterman Darren Clarke.

"Darren was getting a few snaps and a few family portraits done with the Claret Jug last week," McDowell explained. "Some of the photos were pretty cool and I said to him, 'I've got a funny feeling that we'll maybe be bringing that Claret Jug back to Northern Ireland next week'.

"I was talking really from the opportunities that myself and him and Rory (McIlroy) and Michael Hoey have as a whole, and I guess it would be fairly prophetic if I happened to get the job done tomorrow evening.

"There's no doubt I think Darren will be an inspiration and someone that I'll think about a little bit tomorrow. Since I was a young boy I dreamed of coming down that last fairway on a Sunday afternoon, the last group in The Open Championship.

"This is special for me, back-to-back major championships to be in the last group on a Sunday afternoon.

"I talked about it early in the week. I can't expect to win this week, but what I can expect to do is compete if I do the right things, and to give myself a chance to be within three or four of the lead going into a Sunday afternoon and playing with the leader. That's really all I can ask and I'm right where I want to be."

McDowell tees off in the final group with Scott at 2:30pm, while Harrington and Joost Luiten start at 11:40, and there is a very early start for McIlroy, who tees off at 08:55 alongside Fredrik Jacobsen.

New Zealander Steve Williams is the man on Scott's bag and he helped Woods win 13 of his 14 majors before being sacked last summer.

Williams made no secret of how angry he was about that after staying with Woods throughout his sex scandal and when Scott won a world championship last August he called it "the best win of my life".

Then three months later at a caddie awards dinner in China, Williams aimed what he later admitted could be construed as a racist comment about his former boss.

They have done battle face-to-face since then in the Presidents Cup, with one win for each of them, but not in a major. It could be some day.

Taking advantage of Snedeker running into all sorts of problems following his major-record-equalling first two rounds, Scott moved to 11 under par and back out in front with a 68.

His 199 total is only one outside the championship record set by Tom Lehman on the Lancashire links in 1996.

Snedeker had not been in a single bunker or registered a single bogey in his opening 36 holes - but it was not long before that all changed.

He three-putted the 219-yard fifth from just short of the green and then found sand with his approach to the next.

It cost him another dropped shot after he came out sideways and Scott's six straight pars were good enough to take him back into the lead he had held with his opening 64.

Both birdied the long seventh, but while Scott then added a 25-foot putt for another at the 416-yard eighth Snedeker ran up his third bogey after finding the rough.

That made the gap three and when it became four after Snedeker visited another bunker at the ninth, the Nashville golfer was not even second on his own.

Alongside him was Woods. Six back after bogeys at the first and third he re-ignited his bid with an outrageous 60-footer at the difficult sixth and followed with more birdies at the seventh and ninth.

Snedeker's day got worse when he ran up a six on the long 11th, but Scott was on in two and not far away from an eagle. The tap-in birdie swept him five clear.

He did bogey the next, but six closing pars kept him in firm control and on course to become Australia's first winner of the title since Greg Norman in 1993 and their first major champion since Geoff Ogilvy at the 2006 US Open.

McDowell was only level par for the day with six to play, but then birdied the 13th, 14th and 17th to earn himself a head-to-head with Scott.

It is the second major running where he has been in the final group on the final day. It did not work out as he hoped in San Francisco, but it did at Pebble Beach two years ago.

Snedeker rallied with two birdies in the last three for a 73 that pushed Woods down to fourth - and it ought to be remembered that he has never come from behind to win a major yet.

Joint fifth are 2002 winner Ernie Els and former Masters champion Zach Johnson, who flew to Britain after capturing the John Deere Classic last Sunday.

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