MELBOURNE, Australia – Defending champion Adam Scott shot a 5-under-par 66 Saturday to open up a four-stroke lead at the Talsiker Australian Masters and close in on a second consecutive win Down Under.
Scott, the winner of the Masters last April and last week's Australian PGA Championship had a three-round total of 14-under 199 at Royal Melbourne.
There was a four-way tie for second, including 50-year-old Vijay Singh, who is looking for his first tournament win since 2008.
Singh's 63 left him level with Australians Matthew Griffin (69), Nick Cullen (69) and Nathan Holman (70). American Matt Kuchar was sixth after a 67, five strokes behind Scott.
"I'm in a really good position for tomorrow," Scott said. "I put the ball in play and made a couple of putts for the first time this week."
This is Scott's first trip back to Australia since winning at Augusta National in April. He'll partner Jason Day next week in the World Cup, also at Royal Melbourne, then play the Australian Open at Royal Sydney the week after.
"A good score is going to be out there," he said. "Not wasting any shots and taking advantage of the good ones. Vijay must have done something like that today."
Singh bogeyed the par-4 ninth with a three-putt, but had three birdies on the back nine to move into contention. He started the day seven strokes behind Scott.
He credited a recent switch from a long putter to a conventional one with his strong play Saturday.
"The first nine holes were incredible, I thought I could have birdied every hole. I was three under but the first eight holes I didn't hit anything outside of 10 feet," Singh said.
Singh will play in the final group with Scott, a rare Sunday occurrence for the Fijian veteran who has battled injuries over the past several years.
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"After '08 I had a couple of operations on my knee so that kind of got me back two years," Singh said. "And then you start to limp and your whole body kind of reacts differently – I started to have a lot of back aches. But last year it started to get better, and I'm much stronger, healthier and happier."
Scott said "it's been a while" since he and Singh played together.
"His game is in great shape," Scott said. "This course doesn't favor anybody. With good playing, there's a good score there."
Jarrod Lyle, continuing his comeback from a 20-month layoff due to leukemia, shot 70 Saturday and was at even par.
Then a regular on the PGA Tour, Lyle was diagnosed with leukemia in March 2012 just before the birth of daughter Lusi. Lyle's wife, Briony, became pregnant despite medical advice that Lyle's first bout of cancer and the resulting chemotherapy would leave him sterile.
Lyle, who had leukemia for the first time when he was 17, has a medical exemption to return to the PGA Tour whenever he feels he's ready. That might not be until late 2014, he said after making the cut Friday.