The Upshot: Scott closing on No. 1 ranking
March 22, 2014
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
- Adam Scott could climb to the top of the golf world with a win at Bay Hill. (Cohen/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Adam Scott is closer than he has ever been to becoming No. 1 in the world.
First things first, though.
“I think I’ve got to try and win the golf tournament (Sunday),” he 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 (Sunday).”
Count Scott among them.
The Aussie recovered from a shaky start Saturday to shoot a 1-under 71 to take a three-stroke lead into the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard.
Keegan Bradley is alone in second at 12 under after matching the day’s best round with a 66, while Matt Every, who also shot 66, and Jason Kokrak are another shot back.
Through the first three days at Bay Hill, Scott has looked every bit the best player on the planet. Even when he hasn’t he did just enough to keep his name comfortably atop the leaderboard.
Scott began the third round with a seven-shot lead but saw it shrink to one after playing his first five holes in 2 over following a three-putt bogey at the first hole, a poor bunker shot that led to a par on the par-5 fourth and a missed 11-footer to save par on the fifth.
“You think seven (shots) is a lot but it’s not really, especially over 36 holes,” Scott said. “If I was seven back at any other tournament I would think I could still win.”
Thanks to a birdie on the par-5 sixth and four more over his final nine holes -- including one from 30 feet on No. 10 and another from 25 feet on the 15th -- Scott still has a chance to win for the first time this season.
A testy par putt from just outside 7 feet on the 18th, however, was as big as any birdie.
“It’s good for the confidence,” Scott said. “At this stage one shot can go a long way.”
And with one more victory, Scott will pass Tiger Woods and rise to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking in two weeks.
Woods withdrew from the tournament earlier this week because of lingering back problems and neither player is scheduled to play again until the Masters. Scott is the only one who can take over the No. 1 spot.
“I’m very hungry to win,” Scott said. “I feel like this should be the peak time in my career. I’ve got to create these chances more often and I’ve got to take them more often than I have. When you’ve got that opportunity you’ve got to take it because it’s hard to play yourself into contention three or four times a year, let alone 10, what you’d like to.”
The third round is in the books at Bay Hill. Scotts pars 18th for a 71 and a three-shot lead. Scott-Bradley will be final pairing Sunday.— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 22, 2014
Keegan Bradley interview after Round 3 of Arnold Palmer
Bradley right where he wants to be: Keegan Bradley started the third round eight shots off the lead before a 66 that included eight birdies put him three back and exactly where he wants to be going into the last day.
“I kind of like being in this position, a couple back going into Sunday,” he said. “I just kind of like that underdog role. I like knowing that I've got to go out there and play well. It really gets me excited.”
In two of Bradley’s wins, at the 2011 PGA Championship and 2012 World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, he was in a similar spot, chasing the lead going into the final round.
A big reason he cut into Scott’s lead: Putting. Bradley took just 25 putts for a second straight day and for the week ranks fourth in the field in total putts.
Saturday, he made three straight birdies to open his back nine, including two from outside 20 feet, then closed out his round with three more birdies, which included a 23-footer on the 17th.
Call of the Day: Dennis Paulson from PGA TOUR Radio on SirusXM and PGATOUR.COM calls Matt Every's tee ball to inside 2 feet at the par-3 17th hole in the third round of the 2014 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard.
Live play-by-play coverage from PGA TOUR Radio streams on Sirius 208, XM 93 and PGATOUR.COM via pgatour.com/liveaudio.
Changes paying off for Every: Matt Every was nine shots back at the start of the third round. What was his objective?
“I know you can't win it on Saturday,” he said. “so shooting the lowest is my objective. … I was hoping Adam's flu was getting worse or something, yeah. I'm kidding.”
Every did just that with a 66 to put him in position to try for his first career win.
It won’t be the first time, either. He has finished in the top 10 in two of his last three starts.
Aside from better putting, some other changes Every made coming into this season have paid off.
“Last year I had a full-time coach; he was awesome,” he said. “But I kind of got lazy and started relying a little too much on other people to help me.
“This year I'm trying to do everything by myself, just be committed to everything, just trust in myself, and my caddie, too. It's kind of just me and him, that's it.”
If there’s anything that has held him back this year, Every said, it’s that he has at times been too aggressive on Sundays.
How will he approach the final round at Bay Hill?
“We'll just have to see how things go,” he said. “I like to watch leaderboards. It's so situational.”
PHOTOS: Click below for our favorite images from Saturday's round at Bay Hill: