LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England -- It would have been quite a talking point, perhaps even quite a distraction, if Adam Scott and Tiger Woods had been dueling for the claret jug in the final Sunday pairing at this British Open.
In a British summer full of nasty weather, it would have been intriguing to see how frosty the salutations might have been between Woods and Steve Williams, his former caddie. Williams, who parted on less-than-collegial terms with Woods last year, now runs interference and reads putts for Scott.
But Woods couldn't sustain the necessary momentum on the back nine at Royal Lytham & St. Annes to generate that edgy grouping.
"Final pairing, whatever it may be, I was just trying to cut into that lead," Woods insisted. "I'm five back, so Adam is in a great spot right now."
Scott, the Australian who remains on friendly terms with Woods, certainly did his part: shooting a 2-under 68 that might have been lower if some of his nicely weighted putts for eagles and birdies had rolled just a shade farther.
At 11-under 199, Scott has a four-shot lead heading into Sunday's final round and will be paired with Graeme McDowell, the Northern Irishman whose 67 on Saturday put him at 7 under and in a tie for second with Brandt Snedeker.
"A four-shot lead doesn't seem to be very much this year on any golf tournament that I've watched," Scott said. "That doesn't mean a lot. The good part is if I play a solid round tomorrow,
Scott was solid indeed Saturday, with just one bogey on No. 13. He attacked the par-5 seventh and 11th, giving himself eagle putts and settling for birdies. He also sank a 30-foot birdie putt on No. 8. After hitting his second shot on No. 17 into a bunker shaped like a smile on the right of the green, he came out grinning after hitting a sand wedge out of a low stance that stopped within 2 feet of the pin.
Williams teased him afterward for not holing the bunker shot.
"It wasn't really tricky, it's probably the smallest lip on any bunker on the course," Scott said. "He knew what I was thinking. I was kind of lining that one up thinking I might make it. And he was actually kind of having a go at me that I didn't make it, because I told him, 'I think I can handle this one.' And he said, 'I thought you were going to handle it.' "
Despite benign conditions, Scott and McDowell are the only two men to have broken par in each round, but McDowell, who won the 2010 U.S. Open, has something his fellow 32-year-old does not: a major trophy.
"I'm sure myself and Adam will be experiencing slightly different emotions tomorrow," McDowell said. "But it will all boil down to the same thing. It will boil down to pressure. It will boil down to being scared, probably of failing more than winning. I can't really relate to what Adam is feeling because he's a hell of a player. He's got the unfortunate burden of never having won a major championship."
Snedeker, who led Scott by one stroke after 36 holes, had many a misadventure Saturday on this historic course that's finally starting to dry out. He had not made a bogey in the first two rounds. So it continued through the first four holes Saturday, but he then made consecutive bogeys.
On No. 5, he missed a short putt for par. On No. 6, he paid the price for his first visit to one of Lytham's numerous pot bunkers. There would be four more bogeys after that. But Snedeker showed impressive resilience on the difficult closing holes, posting birdies on Nos. 16 and on 18, where he holed a long curling putt.
"I'm not happy with it at all, by any means," Snedeker said of his 73. "But those two birdies late salvaged what could have been a horrific round into a pretty awful round. So I've still got a chance. I've come from behind before."
Snedeker will be paired with Woods, who was 6 under after an even-par 70.
"Well, I turned it around," Woods said, looking for the bright side. "I got off to an awful start and battled back and got myself right back in the mix again. I'm right there. I've just got to execute my game plan. ... I've got to go out there and post the round I know I need to post."
Ernie Els and Zach Johnson were 5 under. Thorborn Olesen, the 22-year-old from Denmark, was 4 under after shooting 71 while playing alongside Woods, his boyhood idol.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.