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AUGUSTA, Georgia, April 8 (Reuters) - It was mission accomplished for Adam Scott on Saturday as the Australian put on a clinical display of precise ball-striking at the U.S Masters to sneak within striking distance of a second Green Jacket with a second successive three-under 69.
The first and only Australian to win the Masters, Scott finds himself three shots back of co-leaders Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia going into Sunday's final round at Augusta National.
He has more work to do than in 2013 when he trailed by one after three rounds before prevailing in a playoff victory over Argentine Angel Cabrera.
"That's plenty close," summed up Scott. "It's just the great players in front, and in conditions like this, if they're like this again tomorrow it's going to be hard, because you're going to have to make it happen.
"I'm just going to need the round of the year for me tomorrow."
A second Green Jacket seemed a long-shot after Scott missed the cut last week in his Masters tune-up in Houston, and then opened his account on Thursday with a three-over 75.
But the 36-year-old has barely made a mistake since, and his bogey-free performance on Saturday, which included several golden birdie chances that shaved the hole but did not drop, left him alone in seventh on three-under 213.
"When you feel quite close to the lead it seems like that could just flip with a birdie and a bogey," said Scott. "I think conditions weren't quite as nice as this (on) that Sunday.
"It seemed easy today after what we've been through the last couple of days.
"I'm going to have to lean on my ball-striking tomorrow, and hit it a couple of feet closer on a few holes to give me realistic chances a bit more often."
Playing in his 16th Masters, Scott knows he will have to get through the front nine without any damage and then attack.
As always at Augusta, it will come to a boil on the back nine, though come-from-behind victories are not as common as many think.
"I mean, it’s cliche here at the Masters, but it all starts on the back nine," said Scott. "For me in my position I just have to play a really good front nine, so I can start something on the back nine.
"But I'm going out there with no pressure tomorrow, playing really well tee to green, feeling good on the greens.
"Anything can happen. So it's really going to be an exciting day tomorrow." (Editing by Andrew Both)