Orlando, FL – Tiger Woods struggled down the stretch over the last couple days, but used a strong finish on Saturday to grab a 2-stroke lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Woods, who is seeking to become just the second player all-time to win the same event eight times and can become the world's top-ranked golfer with a victory, fired a 6-under 66 during his third round to move into the top spot on the leaderboard at Bay Hill Club & Lodge at 11-under-par 205.
"Generally our schedules are such that once we figure out what golf courses we like, we tend to play them and that's kind of been the case in my scheduling," Woods said. "I've got a few events over the course of my career I've played well and this is one of them.
Second-round co-leader Justin Rose bogeyed three of his last six holes to card an even-par 72 and fall into a tie with Rickie Fowler (67) and John Huh (71) for second place at 9-under.
Bill Haas also held a share of the lead entering the third round, but struggled to a 1-over 73 to fall into a group of five players tied for fifth place at minus-8.
He is joined by Thorbjorn Olesen (66), Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (68), Jimmy Walker (70) and Ken Duke (70).
Rose's day started off strong, as he holed in a birdie from just off the green at the first.
He then rolled in a short birdie putt at the third that was followed with an eagle at the fourth, where he poured in another 6-yard shot from just off the green.
But he would manage just one more birdie for the rest of his round that was countered with five bogeys.
Rose's first dropped shot came at the seventh after he 2-putted from within five feet, and he dropped another with another 2-putt at the 10th.
He seemed to have righted himself with a short birdie putt at the 12th, but stumbled again to a bogey at the 13th before hitting his tee shot at the par-3 14th well short of the green and then failing to save par by just missing a 45-foot putt.
His final bogey of the day came with a 3-putt effort at the par-3 17th after hitting his tee shot about 28 feet from the hole.
"I felt like coming in today, I just wanted to go out and play a good round of golf," Rose said. "I wasn't too worried whether I was two ahead or two behind. The real day is tomorrow."
Woods, meanwhile, opened with three straight pars before starting a string of three birdies in four holes at the fourth by rolling in a 9-foot putt.
He capped the spurt with a pair of birdie putts from within eight feet at the fifth and sixth, and then hit his second shot at the par-4 10th to about a foot of the pin and converted the birdie effort.
His lone blemish of the round came on a 2-putt bogey at the 13th, but he got that stroke back by pouring in a 17-foot birdie putt at the 15th.
Woods then moved within a stroke of Rose at 11-under with a 20-foot eagle putt at the 16th and was able to move into the lead with a couple of closing pars as Rose's struggles dropped him out of the top spot.
"That's why we play is to be in this position. It's why I've spent all that time practicing and training is to be in this position," said Woods. "I have a chance to win tomorrow."
Haas recorded four birdies during his round, but he countered them with a bogey and a pair of double bogeys, including the 10th hole where he hit his tee shot out of bounds.
NOTES: Sam Snead is the only other player to win a single event eight times. He did it at the Greater Greensboro Open in 1938, 1946, 1949, 1950, 1955, 1956, 1960 and 1965 ... In Woods' previous seven wins at this event, he held at least a share of the 54-hole lead six times ... Woods has converted 51 of his 55 third-round leads or co-leads into a victory ... Woods is looking for his 77th career win on the PGA Tour ... Mike Weir withdrew from the tournament during his third round with a rib injury.