SYDNEY (Reuters) - Adam Scott struggled with his putter but will still go into the final round of the Australian PGA Championship with a three-shot lead after notching a third round even-par 71 in difficult conditions on the Gold Coast on Saturday.
Scott, playing on home soil for the first time since becoming the first Australian to win the U.S. Masters in April, will go head-to-head with American Rickie Fowler in the final pairing in Sunday's fourth round.
After two days of free-scoring at Royal Pines, the Queensland wind whipped up on Saturday and both the world number two and Fowler, who shared second with Australian David McKenzie, were happy to finish the day with rounds of 71.
"I think it was a grind for everyone, I didn't see too many good scores out there," Scott told Channel 10 TV.
"The course was playing tricky, the wind gusting across the greens made it hard to make a lot of putts. I certainly didn't have my eye in and when I forced it, I three putted.
"So I figured it wasn't my day and tried to be a little better on the back nine, which I managed."
It could have been even better for the 33-year-old overnight leader, who is seeking a first Australian PGA Championship title to go with his home Open and Masters titles in a career sweep of his country's marquee events.
Having dropped shots at the seventh and eight holes, Scott had eagle putts on the 12th and 15th holes but narrowly missed both and took the only birdies of his round by way of consolation.
That left him on 10-under-par at 203 for the tournament, three strokes better off than Fowler and McKenzie, who hit five bogeys and four birdies in his 72.
Fowler closed the gap on Scott with birdies at the second and seventh holes but three bogeys around the turn left him in danger of sliding out of contention.
The flamboyant Californian, who recorded a sparkling 63 in the opening round, rallied with an eight-foot putt for a third birdie at the 16th, however.
"We're in a good position for tomorrow and that's all we really wanted," the 24-year-old said.
"Be nice to play on the fairway a little bit more ... give ourselves some more looks at birdies, eliminate some mistakes and good to go."
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)