One year on, Adam Scott again a major contender at British Open

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Adam Scott of Australia watches his shot from the 5th tee during his third round on day three of the 2012 British Open Golf Championship at Royal Lytham and St Annes (AFP / Peter Muhly)

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Adam Scott is poised to dramatically lift Australia’s sagging sporting stocks overseas when he tees off with Tiger Woods in the British Open at Muirfield tonight.

Having watched England maul Australia in the second Ashes Test at Lords, and the Reds limply bow out of the Super Rugby finals series, Scott looms as the shining light at the end of the tunnel.

He’s three shots adrift of leader Lee Westwood, and one behind Woods when they tee off as the second-last pairing.

This time last year Scott butchered a four-shot lead with just four holes to play, surrendering the coveted claret jug to Ernie Els.

Since then Scott’s won his first major, the US Masters last April.

But an Australian hasn’t won the Open since Greg Norman at Royal St George’s in 1993 – two long decades ago.

Westwood will be thinking exactly the same. An Englishman hasn’t won since Nick Faldo in 1992 at Turnberry.

Playing at the tail of the field will give Westwood the advantage of knowing exactly what his closest rivals are doing from the very first hole.

So too Scott, and Woods, who will command the biggest galleries on what promises to be a memorable final day, with Muirfield baring its teeth.

The big question is, can the just-turned 33-year-old Scott keep it together to remain in genuine contention?

He’s had a bad reputation for piling on triple or double bogeys at critical times. Tonight will be as critical as it gets.

This is his 50th major appearance, and he’s only finished inside the top ten on nine occasions.

The plus tonight will be partnering Woods for the obvious side issue.

And that’s the presence of supremo caddy Steve Williams, formerly Woods’ bag-man until he was fired two years ago, and since then the Kiwi has teamed up with Scott.

That powerful presence will affect Woods far more so than Scott, and there will be tension throughout the 18 holes.

Woods is feeling the pressure of not having won a major since the 2008 US Open when Williams was on his bag.

That’s a staggering 16 majors ago, well short of what we have come to expect from Woods.

So let’s ride Adam Scott home, and if it’s not to be his night, then make it Lee Westwood’s first major.

He too deserves it.

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