Scott keeps his cool under pressure

Adam Scott remained on course for his fifth European Tour victory in the delayed Johnnie Walker Classic here. Scott had a commanding six-shot lead going into the final day at Pine Valley having completed 10 holes of his third round.

Adam Scott remained on course for his fifth European Tour victory in the delayed Johnnie Walker Classic here. Scott had a commanding six-shot lead going into the final day at Pine Valley having completed 10 holes of his third round.

The world No 10 added a second-round 66 to his opening course-record 63, and then recorded five birdies and one bogey in the third round before play was suspended at 6.45pm local time yesterday. Sweden's Henrik Stenson and the American Gary Rusnak were his nearest challengers on 13 under.

The double US Open champion Retief Goosen was on 12 under after 11 holes, alongside fellow South African Richard Sterne and Scotland's Steven O'Hara. O'Hara, a member of the victorious 2001 Walker Cup side, ended the day with an eagle on the 13th.

England's Luke Donald, third on his US Masters debut a fortnight ago, set the clubhouse target on 11 under after a superb 65, with the pre-tournament favourite Ernie Els 10 under. Els would have been much higher up the leaderboard but for a four-putt double-bogey on the par-three third, the second time this season the world No 3 has made such a blunder.

But with precious little rough and no repeat of the strong winds which played havoc with Thursday's play, Scott felt that he would need to continue making birdies to stand a chance of winning the £1.25m event.

Playing partners Rusnak and Sterne struck first, Rusnak holing from 25ft on the first and Sterne matching the birdie from five feet. Scott was glad simply to make par after pulling his tee shot left of the fairway and seeing his par putt from four feet circle the hole before dropping.

The 24-year-old has the power to make the most of the par fives at Pine Valley, however, and despite another miscued drive down the second he found the putting surface in two and safely putted in two. Rusnak and Sterne also made four, but Scott birdied the third as well from 20ft to restore his cushion.

Scott has proved an adept front-runner on several other occasions. He led by four at halfway and went on to win the 2002 Diageo Championship by 10 shots at Glen-eagles, and was three clear in Qatar earlier the same year before winning by six.

Another straightforward birdie on the par-five fifth took him to 18 under par, and after a careless three-putt on the sixth cost him only his second bogey of the week, he quickly made amends with a birdie on the eighth despite finding a greenside bunker with his approach.

Another birdie followed from 20ft on the ninth, and it looked as though the tournament was Scott's to win or lose.

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