Adam Scott posted his best score of the week of a two-under-par 68 to leap up the Japan Open leaderboard but finds himself a whopping 14 strokes adrift of runaway leader Taiga Semikawa.
Scott, the 2013 Masters champion, traded four birdies against two bogeys on the challenging Sanko Golf Club’s Japan Course to shoot up 13 spots to tied-13th on one-over 211 total.
Scott faced an uphill battle from the start as he had begun the day on three-over, nine off the pace.
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The best-placed international at 54-hole mark is American Chan Kim, the 2019 winner, who finished in a three-way tie for fifth on 209 after battling to a 74.
Talented 21-year-old amateur Semikawa put himself on the brink of a stunning victory after firing a 63 to move to 13-under and lead comfortably by six from Kazuki Higa, who shot a 69.
The young amateurs are certainly making their presence felt indeed as Yuta Sugiura, also 21, sits third on four-under following a solid 69.
Three-time JGTO winner Takumi Kanaya, who shared the halfway stage lead with Semikawa and Higa, slipped just three rungs to fourth despite a poor 74.
Scott recovered well from an opening bogey by picking up shots on the seventh and nine holes.
He would concede his second shot of the day bogeying the 12th but responded with a similar fight back with birdies on the 14th and 17th.
Buoyed by the encouraging performance, Scott is determined to finish with a flourish and justify his fans’ tremendous support of him.
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“Well, it was a good round, especially after a terrible start,” said Scott, who finished fifth during his last appearance in 2019.
“Recovered well on (hole number) one and you know, the course is difficult as always, so it was going to be a hard 18-hole.
“You have to concentrate on every shot, it’s so easy to make a bogey and hard to make a birdie, so I’m happy to be under par today.”
“I’d like to have my best round of the week tomorrow. It looks like I’m too far behind to think about winning, but if I can have a really great round, I hope to have a high finish. You’ll never know, the pressure is on the leaders.
“I feel good about my game and I would like to show the fans my best stuff.”
Trailing Semikawa by 12 shots, Kim believes his title hope is effectively over.
In 2019, Kim himself had overturned a mind-blowing eight-shot deficit to snatch the title by a one-shot margin.
In today’s third round, Kim paid the price for a run of four bogeys over the five-hole stretch starting from the seventh.
His two birdies, on the fifth and 15th, however, helped him to cling on to one-under overall and placed him joint fifth Satoshi Kodaira and Taiga Nagano.
“I’m actually happy with how I just kind of didn’t lose my focus even though I had three bogeys in a row (from ninth to 11th holes). Some of the pins were tough,” he said.
“I’m happy with how I played. If I can make a little bit fewer mistakes tomorrow then I can at least finish in the top three.
“Obviously when I won in 2019, I was eight shots behind but the way Taiga is playing, he will be hard to catch. He’s such a good player, he plays with no fear.
“If I want to have a chance, I have to play pretty aggressively tomorrow, but that’s only if I keep hitting fairways, and give myself good chances.”
With a commanding lead on his hands, Semikawa has vowed to cross the finish line.
While many of his more illustrious rivals got blown away by the tough course setting, Semikawa made it look so easy.
His impressive 63, which was highlighted by an eagle ‘two’ on the par-four ninth, also contained seven birdies and two bogeys.
“I played good golf today. I want to keep playing well and win.”