Scott in control of British Open; Tiger, McDowell, Els lurk

Adam Scott of Australia hits his tee shot Adam Scott of Australia hits his tee shot on the first hole during the third round of the 141st British Open Championship. (July 21, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England -- The opportunity is in front of Adam Scott, because for the first time after three rounds of a major championship everyone else is behind him.

Scott, an Australian who's done virtually everything in golf but win one of the big four tournaments, took a four-shot lead Saturday in the oldest of those four, the 141st British Open, being held in surprisingly agreeable weather at Royal Lytham & St. Annes on the coast of Lancashire.

"A four-shot lead doesn't seem to be very much this year in any golf tournament I've watched,'' Scott said, " but the good part is if I play a solid round of golf it will be very hard for the others to beat me.''

Beginning a stroke behind Brandt Snedeker -- whose two days of near perfection turned into an afternoon he called "awful" after a 3-over-par 73 -- Scott shot his third straight round in the 60s, a 2-under 68. That gave him the 54-hole lead at 11-under 199.

Graeme McDowell (67), with whom Scott will play Sunday, and Snedeker are tied for second at 203 entering Sunday's final round. Another shot back a 6-under 204, after an unimpressive 70, is Tiger Woods. He'll be in the next-to-last twosome with Snedeker.

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Following them at 5-under 205 are Zach Johnson and Ernie Els. McDowell won the U.S. Open in 2010 at Pebble Beach and he was second in this year's U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. Woods, Johnson and Els have all won majors, too, though sweet-swinging Scott would seem to be in a good position. He definitely is in a good mind.

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"I'm really excited for what [Sunday] holds,'' said Scott, who turned 32 on Monday. After a year at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, he turned pro in 2000 and has won eight tournaments on the PGA Tour, including the 2004 Players Championship and the 2006 Tour Championship.

"No matter what the result,'' said Scott, whose best major finish is a tie for second at the 2011 Masters," it's going to an incredible experience for me. I truly believe I can go out and play a great round of golf, no matter what the conditions.''

The conditions have been almost too kind," said McDowell, who's from Northern Ireland. "I don't think there have been three more benign days in this part of the world, maybe all year. The course is still a sleeping giant, I suppose.''

Some might use that definition for Woods. Saturday, starting four back of Snedeker, Woods bogeyed the first and third holes.

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"We can't rely on weather forecasts around here,'' Woods insisted when someone told him the wind would rise Sunday. "I have to go out and execute.''

On one shot, Anirban Lahari of India did just that, making a hole-in-one on the 165-yard 9th with a 9-iron. He posted a par 70.

Said a disappointed Snedeker, who went 40 holes without a bogey, and then had six bogeys in 10 holes, "I played very poorly on about as easy a day you're ever going to see.''

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