Scott, at No. 10 in the world the highest-ranked player in the field, overcame two front-nine bogeys and shot a 3-under 67 Saturday to get to 8-under 202. The Australian star birdied two of the last three holes, including a 3 1/2 -footer at the 429-yard 18th.
That put him three strokes ahead of a quartet of players'Sutherland (67), Bart Bryant (67), Charley Hoffman (68) and Ryan Moore (68). Sergio Garcia, after a season-best 65, was four strokes back along with Dudley Hart (66) and Jesper Parnevik (68).
Sutherland, whose only PGA TOUR victory came six years ago, was at 7 under with a one-stroke lead over Scott until bogeys on the final two holes.
After missing a 7-foot par putt on the 198-yard 17th hole, Sutherland pushed his final tee shot way right into heavy rough'and was still in the rough after his punch shot. He finally got to the front edge of the green and two-putted from 70 feet.
I have to remember what I did before that, Sutherland said. I had a good rhythm going, a good feeling and tried to keep doing that. I kind of got away from that maybe at the end.
While Sutherland was getting spectators moved out of the way for his first shot out of the rough at 18, Scott missed a chance for a bigger margin when his 9-foot birdie attempt at the 504-yard 15th hole drifted left only inches away from the hole. But Scott didnt wait long for another birdie chance.
Scott missed the fairway on the par-5 16th, layed up into the fairway and put his approach shot inside 6 feet to set up a birdie. After his aggressive birdie attempt at 17 rolled 6 feet past the hole, Scotts approach at 18 was right on the pin.
In his only other Nelson appearance two years ago, Scott shared the lead at the end of each of the first three rounds. A closing 71 left him in third place behind Brett Wetterich and Trevor Immelman, who missed the Nelson cut this year in his first tournament since winning the Masters.
Scotts round began with his opening tee shot landing in a fairway bunker, though he saved par with a two-putt from 17 feet before missing a 6-foot-par chance at the 221-yard second hole. There were consecutive birdies before Scott missed the fairway at the 451-yard eighth for a bogey, his last of the day.
It was a bit of a slow start for me. I never really got going on the front, Scott said. I knew a solid nine holes would do me good. No. 16 and 18 were key. I finished the day with a couple of nice wedge shots, and that makes it a little buffer going into (Sunday).
The redone TPC Four Seasons course could play much differently for the final round because of an overnight forecast for inclement weather and more than an inch of rain. Tournament officials will use threesomes for the final round, teeing off from Nos. 1 and 10.
Garcia had his best scoring round of the season despite hitting only two of 14 fairways. He baled himself out of trouble with his short game and his putter, an 8-year-old one he recently pulled out of his old bags. He needed only 27 putts.
I loved it as soon as I put it down. It just gave me a good vibe, Garcia said. Its just that old feeling from years back when you did well and you holed putts and stuff.
Garcia, the 2004 Nelson champion, had three birdies his first seven holes, starting with an approach to 7 feet on the opening hole. His only bogey came at No. 8, when he had his only three-putt'from 72 feet. He added three more birdies after that.
Garcia was the last 54-hole leader to win the Nelson. Steve Marino holed a birdie from 66 feet and a greenside bunker at the second hole. Not to be outdone, playing partner Eric Axley chipped in a 61-footer from the fairway after missing the green short. Justin Leonard had two triple bogeys in a round of 74. Defending champion Scott Verplank had all five of his bogeys in his first 10 holes on way to a 73. He was 12 strokes off the lead.