Scott tees off with 4-shot lead at British Open

Associated Press  |  Last updated July 22, 2012
Adam Scott was struggling to protect Sunday in the finale of the British Open, making three bogeys early in the round, while Tiger Woods' hopes of a 15th major title might have ended when he took a triple-bogey at the sixth hole after being forced to hit out of a bunker while sitting down. No one was taking charge at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, where the sun was out again but the breeze picked up significantly off the Irish Sea. All of the top five players on the leaderboard were over par for the day as they approached the turn. Scott, who went into the final round with a four-stroke lead, got off to a rough start at the par-3 opening hole when his drive rolled off the back of the green and he missed a 4-footer to save par. He bounced back with a birdie at the second, but two more bogeys at the third and sixth holes left him at 9 under overall. Fortunately for the Aussie, he wasn't being challenged. Brandt Snedeker made par on the first six holes to get within two strokes of the lead - only to make a double-bogey 7 at the seventh after he drove left into the rough. Woods started the round five shots back and looking to come from behind for the first time ever to win a major title. But the debacle at No. 6 seemed likely to wipe out any chance he had of rallying. He ran into trouble by putting his approach into one of the treacherous bunkers alongside the green. With the ball right up against a towering sod wall, Woods made the ill-fated decision to try to chip the ball out - and didn't come close, the ball striking the side of the bunker not even halfway up. He had to jump out of the way just to make sure he didn't get hit in the shoulder, the ball plopping back into the stand a little farther back. With nowhere to place his feet, Woods had to sprawl out on the grass, his left leg tucked up under his right, and punch at the ball from a sitting position. He caught the lip of the bunker this time, but the ball skidded out to the front of the green. Woods' work wasn't done, though. His long bogey putt stopped about 4 feet short of the hole, and he missed that one for a devastating triple that knocked him back to 3 under. Graeme McDowell, playing in the final group with Scott, also was struggling. He bogeyed the second and took another bogey at the sixth after dumping his ball into the same bunker that doomed Woods. Wisely, G-Mac punched ball backward in the sand, giving him a chance to stick his next bunker shot right up next to the flag. He tapped that one in to save a 5, certainly a lot better than a 7. McDowell and Snedeker were both at 5 under, leaving Scott with the same lead he had at the start of the day. --- Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963
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