Adam Scott retained his lead for the third straight day in the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard, but things tightened up with 18 holes to play thanks to big moves behind him.
Keegan Bradley and Matt Every each fired rounds of 6-under-par 66 on a pleasant Saturday afternoon on Bay Hill Club's Championship Course to cut significantly into Scott's record seven-stroke lead after 36 holes. The reigning Masters champion, Scott weathered an up-and-down round of 1-under 71, and his 15-under 201 total is still three strokes ahead of Bradley, the 2011 PGA champion.
Scott knew Friday that the competition could make a run at him. He remains in control of his own destiny, however, and that's fine with the reigning Masters champion.
"Yeah, it's a really good spot to be," said Scott, who is trying to become the second player, after Fred Couples in 1992, to win wire-to-wire after leading outright after every round. "I really enjoyed the day on the course. I think I'm feeling better physically. But I also enjoyed the challenge of playing in contention again for really the first time this year. And looking forward to tomorrow. It's going to be a great day. Everyone will be hungry to try to win this event. I think it means a lot to every player out here."
Bradley, who tied for third last year here at Bay Hill, made eight birdies, including on the final three holes, to give himself his best chance to win since the 2012 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. He and Scott last played together in the first three rounds of the 2013 Barclays â€“ won by Scott.
"I'm excited that I cut into the lead. My goal today was just to cut into that lead as much as I could," Bradley said. "I kind of like being in this position, a couple back going into Sunday. I needed to go shoot a good round. I feel really good."
So does Every, who already has four top-10s this season. He's tied for third with Jason Kokrak, who shot 67 at 11-under 205.
Chesson Hadley, the only player this week with three rounds in the 60s, and Francesco Molinari were next at 206 after each shot 69. Hadley, who surged within a stroke of Scott early Saturday before his rally stalled, is seeking to become the first player to win at Bay Hill in his debut since Robert Gamez in 1990.
Orlando resident Ian Poulter was alone in seventh at 69-208.
Every is seeking his first PGA TOUR title, and it would be considered a home win of sorts. He grew up in nearby Daytona Beach, Fla., and the first tournament he ever attended as a kid was at Bay Hill. "It would be really cool if I could win," he said. "I don't know if that's possible. A lot of it depends on Adam."
Scott is has won six of nine times with the 54-hole lead, but two of those have been three shots or more, including a four-stroke cushion he lost at the 2012 Open Championship at Royal Lytham. A victory today would put him on the doorstep of taking over the No. 1 ranking from Tiger Woods, who had to withdraw earlier this week because of a bad back.
"I've got to go out and try to win the golf tournament. I'm not trying to win the No. 1 ranking," said Scott, seeking his 11th career PGA TOUR title. "I've got a bunch of guys breathing down my neck who all have had nice rounds today and feeling pretty good about the way they're playing going into tomorrow. So I'm going to have to play a pretty sharp round of golf and not open the door at all. I'm looking to win the golf tournament tomorrow, that's enough motivation for me at this point."