Sports

Adam Scott's big lead is down to three at Bay Hill

SportsAdam ScottInternational TravelKeegan BradleyTravelFrancesco MolinariPGA Championship

ORLANDO, Fla. — The third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational revealed there were actually other golfers in the field not named Adam Scott.

Meet Chesson Hadley.

Say hello to Jason Kokrak.

Here's Matt Every, everybody.

Ciao, Francesco Molinari of Italy.

You remember Keegan Bradley, don't you?

The tournament certainly took a different turn, although Scott had warned to hold off on his coronation.

Upon seizing a seven-shot lead after the second round at Bay Hill, Scott said, rather prophetically, that his cushion "was not enough."

While the Aussie spun his wheels Saturday, a pack of players made charges — Bradley started eight strokes back — to set up an intriguing final day.

At 15 under par, Scott still leads by three strokes over Bradley, but Scott left the door ajar by shooting a one-under 71.

Bradley shot 66 to go to 12 under while Every rallied from nine down with a 66 to check in with Kokrak at four shots back. At 10 under are Molinari and Hadley, who posted his third consecutive sub-70 round (69-68-69).

"My goal today was just to cut into that lead as much as I could," Bradley said. "I knew that Adam wouldn't come back to me or won't come back to me. I know that I'll have to go out and shoot a good number. And that was kind of my mind-set."

Five players are within five shots, rallying to slow what appeared to be a rout by Scott, who opened going 62-68 and would take over the No. 1 world ranking with a victory.

Scott actually did an admirable job to turn around a shaky start. At one point, Hadley had chopped his lead to one shot on the front nine as Scott struggled with a 37.

"When you don't start birdie-birdie-birdie, then you know the other guys have got nothing to lose and they're going for it. They've got to close the gap," Scott said. "It doesn't surprise me at all. You think seven is a lot, but it's not really, especially over 36 holes.

"If I was seven back at any other tournament, I would think I could still win."

Scott has been the face of Arnie's tournament. Here are the "bunch of guys breathing down" his neck:

Bradley, 27, won the PGA Championship as a rookie in 2011, the most notable of his three Tour titles. Everybody has been waiting for him to become a superstar. The son of a club pro, he gave up ski racing for golf, turning pro in 2008.

Every, 30, has yet to win on Tour but has two top 10s in his last three events. He's not your cookie-cutter golfer, mocking his peers' "stupid clothes." When he came to Bay Hill as a youngster, he followed free spirit Mark Calcavecchia.

Molinari, 31, has won three times on the European Tour. He's regarded as the top Italian golfer in the world. He's best known for halving the final hole against Tiger Woods to lead Europe's incredible comeback to win the 2012 Ryder Cup.

Kokrak, 28, also has never won on Tour. He's known for his long-ball prowess, having led the Nationwide Tour in driving distance (318.6 yards). He earned his Tour card in 2011. The Canadian-born Kokrak began playing golf at 3. Years later, he got serious after winning $100 from his father after beating him.

Hadley, 26, a Tour rookie, won the Puerto Rico Open. He started playing golf at 6 and broke par by 12. He became a three-time All-American at Georgia Tech but waited tables after college. He's never had a hole in one, and his dream foursome is Ronald Reagan, Ben Hogan and Jesus.

bschmitz@tribune.com

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