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Adam Scott scuffles but keeps lead at Bay Hill

Adam Scott sports a look that became the norm for his third round after missing another putt, this for birdie on No. 8.

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Adam Scott sports a look that became the norm for his third round after missing another putt, this for birdie on No. 8.

ORLANDO — Adam Scott didn't have to look as far down the leaderboard to find players who suddenly are a real threat to win at Bay Hill.

He described them as players who are "hungry to win," and Scott served them up an appetizer Saturday in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Staked to a seven-shot lead going into the third round, the Masters champion hit enough loose shots and missed enough par putts to lose more than half his lead and turn his quest to be No. 1 in the world into a bigger battle than he would have preferred.

Scott made a 7-foot par putt on the final hole for 1-under 71, giving him a three-shot lead over Keegan Bradley.

"I think I've got to go out and try to win the golf tournament (today)," Scott said. "I'm not trying to win the No. 1 ranking. I've got a bunch of guys breathing down my neck who all have had nice rounds (Saturday) and are feeling pretty good about the way they're playing going into (today)."

Scott was at 15-under 201.

Bradley birdied his last three holes, taking on the flag at the 18th with a 9-iron from 167 yards that narrowly cleared the rocks framing the lake and settled 4 feet from the flag. That was the final touch on an eight-birdie round of 66.

"I just kind of like that underdog role," Bradley said. "I like knowing that I've got to go out there and play well. It really gets me excited. And playing in the final group with one of the best players in the world at Arnold Palmer's tournament is what we all dream to do."

Matt Every (66) and Jason Kokrak (67) were four shots behind, both with a chance to win on the PGA Tour for the first time. Chesson Hadley and Francesco Molinari each had a 69 and were another shot behind.

Scott was never satisfied with the seven-shot lead, and he still felt comfortable with a three-shot advantage going into today.

"When you've got the lead, you have to work for it," he said. "I'm still in good shape."

Five holes into the third round, his seven-shot lead had been trimmed to one. Scott three-putted from 60 feet on the opening hole, an indication of how fast the greens have become at Bay Hill, and he hit a poor chip to 12 feet on No. 5 to drop another shot. Hadley applied the early pressure with four birdies through the sixth hole to get within one.

Scott wasn't aware of that. He doesn't sound as though he would have been surprised, anyway: "When you don't start birdie-birdie, then you know the other guys have got nothing to lose and they're going for it. They've got to close the gap. It doesn't surprise me at all."

LPGA: Lydia Ko topped a crowded leaderboard in the JTBC Founders Cup, pulling ahead with two late birdies in Phoenix. The 16-year-old New Zealander shot 5-under 67 to reach 16-under 200. Jessica Korda (66) and Mirim Lee (70) were a shot back.

Champions: Billy Andrade shot 7-under 65 to share a one-shot lead with Fred Funk after the second round of the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic in Saucier. Andrade had the day's low round, capping it with a 20-foot birdie putt on 18 to finish 8-under 136. Funk shot 67. The 50-year-old Andrade is playing in just his fourth senior event. Fred Couples began the day with a two-shot lead but fell into a tie for second after shooting 71, joining Jay Haas and Jeff Maggert, who each shot 69.

Obit: Frank Hannigan, a former executive director of the USGA who offered blunt opinions on TV and in print long after he retired, died in Far Hills, N.J. He was 82.

Adam Scott scuffles but keeps lead at Bay Hill 03/22/14 [Last modified: Saturday, March 22, 2014 10:32pm]
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