MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Adam Scott curled in an eagle putt on the 18th hole to snatch a one-stroke lead from Poland's Adrian Meronk after the third round of the Australian Open on Saturday and boost his chances of a second Stonehaven Cup.
South Korea's Shin Jiyai led the women's component of the inaugural dual gender event by a stroke from British Open champion Ashleigh Buhai, the compact South Korean taking charge with a front nine birdie blitz at Victoria Golf Club.
On a hot and slow day on Melbourne's 'Sandbelt', former world number one Scott dropped his share of the overnight lead during a barren front nine but leapfrogged Meronk on the last hole in his three-under 67.
"It's a good way to finish," said Scott, who was an 11-under total of 201.
"But you've got to be careful around the 'Sandbelt'. I played pretty safe."
Unheralded Meronk had earlier shot a brilliant seven-under 63 to set up a Sunday showdown with his idol.
"He’s been my role model since I was a child, so that would be also a dream come true for me to play with him," said the rangy 29-year-old.
Home duo Haydn Barron and Min Woo Lee were joint third, four shots behind Scott on seven-under.
Tempers flared in the heat as more than 160 players clogged up the course, leading to marathon rounds and long waits at tees.
"This is what happens when you have so many people out on the course," said Australian number three Lucas Herbert, who was eight shots behind Scott after shooting 67.
"It's hard when it's stop-start and you don't feel like you can get that rhythm."
Scott also endured frustration, starting his round with eight successive pars and a bogey.
He finally had a tap-in birdie on the 12th when he thrashed a sublime second shot out of the rough to within inches of the pin.
After flirting with the first cut on Friday, local posterboy Cameron Smith bowed out with a 69, his one-over total shy of the ruthless second cut line. Only the top 30 and ties play on Sunday.
Smith had gone to the pub on Friday thinking his tournament was over, but the British Open champion then found he had snuck in under the cut and had to come back the next day.
"(I) was probably a few too many beers deep and then I realised we had an early tee time, so I got back on the waters and was a good boy the rest of the night," he told reporters.
Shin started the day two shots adrift of overnight leader Hannah Green but rocketed to the top with four birdies from the fifth to the ninth hole in a round of 67.
She was on a 14-under total of 203.
South African Buhai was also a big mover, shooting a 66 to be a stroke ahead of Green (71), who grabbed birdies on her last two holes to slot into outright third.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by William Maclean)