Golf: Woods stays two ahead after testing day at Sherwood

Tiger Woods tees off on the sixth hole during the third round of the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge golf tournament at Sherwood Country Club, on Dec 7, 2013, in Thousand Oaks, California. Woods stayed on track for his sixth victory of the year a
Tiger Woods tees off on the sixth hole during the third round of the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge golf tournament at Sherwood Country Club, on Dec 7, 2013, in Thousand Oaks, California. Woods stayed on track for his sixth victory of the year as he maintained a two-shot lead after a tricky day for scoring at the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge on Saturday. -- PHOTO: AP

THOUSAND OAKS, California (REUTERS) - Tiger Woods stayed on track for his sixth victory of the year as he maintained a two-shot lead after a tricky day for scoring at the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge on Saturday.

The American world number one ground out a level-par 72 in strengthening winds at Sherwood Country Club to end the third round of the tournament which he hosts with an 11-under total of 205.

In glorious late afternoon sunshine after a damp start to the day, Woods rolled in a 12-foot birdie putt at the par-four last to retain control of an event he has won a record five times.

Compatriot Zach Johnson, the first-round leader, was alone in second place after carding a matching 72 with 2012 Masters champion Bubba Watson a further two strokes back at seven under, after a 69.

Only four players in the elite field of 18 dipped under par for the day, Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy the best of them with a six-birdie 68 that left him a distant 13 shots off the pace.