GOLD COAST (AFP) - World No. 18 Adam Scott surged into a one-shot lead at the European Tour co-sanctioned Australian PGA Championships on Saturday (Dec 21) as the veteran campaigner looks to end his year on a high.
The 39-year-old headed into the tournament on the back of bitter disappointment at being on the losing side during last week's Presidents Cup to Tiger Woods' Americans at Royal Melbourne.
But he has quickly put it aside in a bid to claim a second Australian PGA title and his first since 2013 when he romped to a four-stroke win over American Rickie Fowler.
Scott birdied the final hole at Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast for a three-under 69 to lead by a stroke from fellow Australian and old friend Wade Ormsby, who fired a 70.
"It's incredibly bunched, and if it's windy tomorrow, it's going to be hard for anyone to really separate themselves unless they just play an incredible round of golf, go out there and roll in a lot of putts," said Scott.
"For me, my strategy's going to be the same."
Australian Nick Flanagan had the round of the day, draining nine birdies in a flawless nine-under 63 to match the course record and roar into contention, two behind Scott in a group of four.
That pack includes overnight leader Yuan Yechun who failed to build on his superb second round 65, with the young Chinese big-hitter struggling to 73.
"The adrenaline started pumping there the last three or four holes when I was trying to get to 10 or 11 (under-par) coming in so I could really be up there," said expectant father Flanagan.
"If things don't work out, I've got a baby due in five weeks and that's really what I'll be thinking about. But obviously I would love to go out there and win."
Spain's Alejandro Canizares was also on fire, shooting a 64 with bogeys at 14 and 15 ruining what could have been an unbelievable round. He is three off the pace.
But Cameron Smith's chances of winning his third Australian PGA title in a row faded with the Australian five adrift of Presidents Cup teammate Scott after a 72.
He is one clear of American Cameron Champ, who won the Safeway Open on the PGA Tour this year.