His hero, Greg Norman, held a six-shot lead over Nick Faldo after 54 holes, and it was going to be a victory march. Even Norman, with a reputation for being a choker, could not blow this one.
It was around 3am in Adelaide when Norman stepped up to the first tee. At 7am he reached the final green, his lead long since overhauled by Faldo. It was one of the most wretched meltdowns sport had ever seen, as Norman, eyes flickering between fear and bewilderment, dynamited his own chances of victory. Faldo shot 67 to take the title; Norman carded 78.
And Adam Scott was in tears. He almost wished his parents had sent him to bed. The deal had been that he would still have to go to school, but he was too numb to drag himself out of the house.
Will those memories haunt him as he goes through his preparations for the final round of The Open at Lytham today? Scott, opening with a mesmerising 64, has played the most accomplished golf of any player in the field this week. Last night he backed up his brilliant start with a superb, if more solid, third circuit of the Lancashire links, signing for a 68. He holds a three-shot lead over Graeme McDowell and Brandt Snedeker. Tiger Woods is another stroke further back.
Like Norman, Scott has been branded as a player who can lose it under pressure. In truth, that reputation was created by a couple of unimpressive displays at routine Tour events, so it could easily be dismissed as saloon bar speculation. In reality, his record in protecting a 54-hole lead is one of the best in the business – almost Tigerlike, you could say. Yet while Woods established his reputation as the sport's great front-runner in Majors, Scott has not yet been in the position he will be in today, when he will face the greatest examination his sport has to offer.
Scott said: "I have a pretty good record from having the lead. I think when I'm in the lead it means I'm playing well. So I should be confident going into tomorrow playing well. I just need to do all the same stuff I've been doing that's been effective, and it shouldn't really change just because it's Sunday.
"Obviously there are nerves and there's a finish line out there somewhere. But throughout my career somehow I've been able to handle that situation fairly well most of the time.
"I'm really excited for what tomorrow holds. No matter what the result, it's going to be an incredible experience for me. And I truly believe I can go out and play a great round of golf, no matter what the conditions. If I do that, then I think that makes it pretty hard for them to catch me."
Scott could be branded the mild colonial boy, but he will have to find a bit of steel beneath that gentle exterior to close things out against a leaderboard which, though stretched by his four-shot lead, still has Major winners of the calibre of McDowell, Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Bubba Watson and Louis Oosthuizen filling its slots.
Nor would you rush to rule out Snedeker. The American had some wretched breaks as he whittled his 10-under overnight lead down to five under, but he showed impressive resilience near the end as he brought that back to seven under with calm birdies at the 16th and 18th holes.
Scott's biggest concern is likely to be McDowell. The Northern Irishman has hit a few purple patches during this event, none more impressive than his closing stretch where he took three birdies from a sequence of six of the most feared holes in golf. McDowell was in the final group at the US Open last month, and he is clearly acquiring a taste for these things. "Since I was a young boy I dreamed of coming down that last fairway on a Sunday afternoon, the last group in the Open Championship," he said. "So this is special for me."
Only 17 players in the 83-man field broke par in their third rounds. A few, Woods among them, held station with even-par rounds, but most struggled to cope with greens that were far faster than they had experienced over the first two days and with pin placements that bordered on the mischievous.
In uncommonly calm weather, conditions that have made the knee-deep rough far less of a factor than many had predicted, officials chose to protect the course by tucking flags away in the nastiest places and players toiled to cope with the challenge.
Martin Laird's 82 was comfortably the highest of the day, and the second-highest of the tournament. Paul Lawrie, the only other Scot left in the field, put in a decent enough shift for 17 holes, but then blew himself far down the field by four-putting the last for a triple bogey.
Then again, Lawrie didn't have many examples to follow as far as European standard bearers were concerned. The word is that Rory McIlroy has been putting in some serious hours on the practice ground recently, but his enthusiasm for the game was little evident in his body language as he plodded his way to a 73 in which he gave himself few opportunities with his approach play. And those he did have were mostly wasted by poor putting.
Nor did Lee Westwood give the impression that his Major drought will end as a matter of course. His playing partner, Tom Watson, suggested it is only a matter of time before Westwood gets his hands on one of the big ones, but there was a sloppiness about his play, and especially his short game, that suggested no such thing.
Contextual targeting label: