Australian Adam Scott was today closing in on his first major title on a dramatic final day of the Open Championship at Royal Lytham.
Scott took a four-shot lead into the final round and, despite playing his first 13 holes in two over, found himself three ahead of Ernie Els as the likes of Tiger Woods and Graeme McDowell committed costly blunders.
Woods has not won a major title since the US Open in 2008 and his chances of ending that streak looked to have disappeared with a triple-bogey seven on the sixth hole.
After five straight pars kept him right in contention, Woods' approach to the 492-yard par-four sixth - played as a par five when the Open was last at Lytham in 2001 - found a semi-plugged lie in a steep-faced bunker.
Woods thought about playing out backwards or sideways before eventually attempting to blast straight out onto the green, but saw the ball come back off the face of the hazard and almost hit him. That would have brought a one-shot penalty, but rules officials checked video footage to make 100% certain that Woods was in the clear.
The former world number one then had to lie outside the bunker to play his fourth shot, which also caught the bank but squirted out to the front of the green, from where he three-putted.
McDowell, playing in the last group for the second major in succession, saw his hopes of adding to his 2010 US Open triumph nosedive on the par-five 11th, wildly hooking his second shot into some thick bushes and being unable to find the ball.
In contrast, Scott had carded seven pars in succession after his third bogey of the day on the sixth, with the 32-year-old's only birdie coming after a superb approach to three feet on the second.
Els, second and third when the Open was staged at Lytham in 1996 and 2001 respectively, had gone to the turn in 36 but picked up birdies on the 10th, 12th and 14th to reach six under.