Golf: Stenson leads while Tiger surges at Bay Hill

Woods prepares to play his shot on the 16th hole during the third round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Woods prepares to play his shot on the 16th hole during the third round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.PHOTO: AFP

MIAMI (AFP) - Henrik Stenson clung to a one-stroke lead in Saturday's (March 17) third round of the PGA Arnold Palmer Invitational while Tiger Woods surged late to continue his strong comeback from back surgery.

Sweden's Stenson, the 2016 British Open winner, dropped his approach inside four feet from the cup at the par-5 12th hole to set up a bogey that left him one-under for the third round and 12-under overall at Bay Hill.

American Bryson DeChambeau was one stroke back in second after 12 holes with compatriot Rickie Fowler third at 10-under after 14 holes.

England's Justin Rose held the clubhouse lead at nine-under 207 after a third-round 67.

Woods, a 14-time major winner, again showed solid form with the Masters looming in three weeks, firing a three-under par 69 to stand on 209 through 54 holes at the Orlando layout where he has captured eight career titles.

"I figure I'm within reach if I shoot a really, really low round tomorrow," Woods said.

"I'm going to have to shoot a low one and get a little bit of help. But my responsibility is to go out and shoot a low one first."

Woods curled in a 12-foot birdie putt at the par-4 18th to complete his day, cocking for a full-speed fist pump before adopting a mellow low-key finish because "I figured that would probably (only) get me within five or six of the lead."

Woods found a greenside bunker at the par-3 second hole and missed a 10-foot par putt but answered the bogey with birdies on three of the next four holes.

After curving in a 38-foot putt at the third, Woods sank a five-foot birdie putt at the par-5 fourth and, after a par save from a greenside bunker at five, sank a 15-foot putt at the sixth.

Woods took another bogey at the par-4 eighth, finding the right rough off the tee and missing a 10-foot par putt, only to answer it by making a 10-foot birdie putt at the par-4 11th.

Woods went birdie-bogey at 16 and 17, escaping a bunker at the par-5 16th but missing a 15-foot eagle putt then finding a greenside bunker at the par-3 17th and missing a 17-footer for par.

"Never give in to the golf course (or) certain shots," Woods said. "Just trying to make the best possible score and dig it out on every hole. I made three bogeys but I made three birdies right after that so that's positive."