Schauffele closing on successive wins while Spieth looms at Scottish Open

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Xander Schauffele moved 18 holes away from successive tournament wins after snatching the lead with another excellent round at the Scottish Open.

Schauffele, who went into moving day four shots off the pace set by American compatriot Cameron Tringale, followed up his second-round 65 with a four-under 66 to move to seven under through 54 holes at The Renaissance Club.

It would have been even better for Schauffele, who prevailed last time out at the Travelers Championship, if not for successive bogeys at 17 and 18 to end the round.

But his two-over 72 on Thursday must now feel like a distant memory, with Schauffele going into the final 18 holes with a two-stroke lead over Rafa Cabrera Bello, who is in prime position to qualify for the Open Championship at St Andrews next week as the highest-placed player yet to clinch a spot in the final major of the year.

By contrast, Tringale endured a day to forget with a four-over 74 that dropped him back to three under.

It appeared as if he would strengthen his chances of victory when he eagled the par-five third. However, he did not make another gain the rest of the way, carding six bogeys.

Jordan Spieth perhaps looms as Schauffele's most ominous challenger. The 2015 Open champion began the day seven strokes back but closed to just three off the pace following a 66 that included eagles at the 10th and the par-four 15th hole.

Spieth sat in a group of three players on four under, with Ryan Palmer – also in the mix for a place at The Open – and Jordan Smith also firmly in contention. Smith had a hole-in-one on the 17th on Friday and went close to doing the same on Saturday, another fine tee shot leaving him with a tap-in for birdie.

Alex Smalley would be the third and final Open qualifier as it stands after a 67 took him to three under, putting him alongside Tringale and U.S. Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick.

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