Lytham - Adam Scott maintained his four-stroke lead early in the British Open final round on Sunday despite making a shaky start while Tiger Woods's hopes seemed to be over after an extraordinary triple bogey.
Australian Scott, seeking his first major victory, hit his tee shot at the short first through the back of the green and was unable to get up and down for his par three.
The world number 13 showed he was made of stern stuff when he played the second in imperious fashion, arrowing his approach to within three feet of the pin and sinking his birdie putt.
But Scott dropped a stroke at the third and another bogey at the sixth sent him back to nine over par for the championship, four ahead of playing partner Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland and Brandt Snedeker of the U.S.
Up ahead in the match in front, former world number one Woods parred the first five holes before suffering a calamitous moment at the sixth.
With his ball tight up against the wall of a steep greenside bunker, the 14-times major champion had to take evasive action as it rebounded back towards him following his first attempt to get out.
Woods then sank to his knees perched on the edge of the trap and, with one leg extended to keep his balance, he managed to make a strong contact with his ball which struck the lip of the bunker and squirted out across the green.
The American, who had birdied the sixth in each of his opening three rounds, then missed a 40-foot putt for bogey and a five-footer for double-bogey before gratefully sinking his third attempt.
Woods's first triple-bogey in a major championship for nine years left him six shots behind Scott with 12 holes to play but he quickly got one back with a brilliant chip-in for birdie at the seventh.
Earlier, Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts took full advantage of a glorious summer's day by ripping up the Lytham course in changeable winds to shoot a five-under 65.
The winner of this year's World Match Play Championship in Spain charged through the field to set the pace in the clubhouse on one-under 279.
With the sun beating down on the Lancashire links and the wind not as strong as predicted, Colsaerts seemed hell bent on making up for his previous rounds of 77 and 72 after having started his campaign with a sparkling 65.
The 29-year-old, who comes from a sporting family and had a great grandfather who competed for Belgium at basketball and water polo in the 1920 Olympics, made his intentions clear with a first-hole birdie.
Colsaerts dropped a stroke at the third before reeling off five birdies in an inspired 12-hole run from the fifth.
"It's difficult not to have a smile on my face," he told reporters. "I was quickly under par and gave myself chances a lot of times.
"There were still a few putts that didn't drop but it's great to come down the last couple of holes and have your game on. It was very pleasurable."
Colsaerts said his birdie two at the first was the highlight of his round.
"I hit a fantastic shot, got the round going and got in a great mood," he added.
"Since yesterday I have picked up the pace of the greens very well. Every time I was inside 20, 25, 30 feet I felt like I was at least going to shave the hole and give myself a decent chance."
World number two Rory McIlroy completed a disappointing week with a 73 for an eight-over-par total of 288 and number three Lee Westwood signed off with a 72 at six over for the tournament.