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Henrik Stenson atop riveting leaderboard after Round 3 at Bay Hill

Henrik Stenson atop riveting leaderboard after Round 3 at Bay Hill

With the Masters looming large in the minds of players and fans alike, the Arnold Palmer Invitational is proving a compelling warm up for the year's first Grand Slam event.

Woods mixed six birdies with three bogeys in his three-under-par 69 during the third round at Florida's Bay Hill.

Henrik Stenson clung to a one-stroke lead after Saturday's third round of the PGA Arnold Palmer Invitational while Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose surged into the title hunt.

Luck held top Australian honours at the start of the day but trod water on the front nine with a birdie and a bogey before giving back two shots on the run to the clubhouse to slip to 3-under overall and a share of 35th. He made up for it best that he could by making more than 115 feet worth of putts.

The par streak was extended to 13 holes before Stenson found his range on the greens to birdie the fifth, sixth and seventh to maintain his bid for a first win of the season.

The third-round 69 breaks a small string of third-round improvement during Woods' three previous made cuts this year.

Woods was four shots behind Swede Henrik Stenson in only his fourth start since recovering from fusion surgery and a fourth back operation over a three-year period. "I was just trying to lag it down there, just make my par and get outta here and it had a crash at the hole, which I'm not complaining about, and it went in".




Day and Hideki Matsuyama, out since Phoenix with a wrist injury, will play with Woods over the next few days.

"I couldn't ask for much more from today's round; I got it up-and-down when I needed to, I took advantage of good shots and I'm feeling a lot more comfortable on the greens", McIlroy said. "For a long time when I did kind of get out here a little bit, he was never here and it was a sore disappointment to have him not be here". He was seven shots back. Rickie Fowler (71), Billy Horschel (70) and Luke List (67) were five shots behind.

Four-time major victor Rory McIlroy fired a 67 to be alone in third at 10 under.

McIlroy, meanwhile, has gone 26 tournaments since his last victory at the Tour Championship in 2016 to win the FedEx Cup.

"I've got a chance; I'm five back and my responsibility is to go out and shoot a low one", Woods said.

Fowler was tied for the lead briefly until a long three-putt on the par-3 14th and a messy finish. I'm just playing shots, playing the holes, playing angles, where to miss the golf ball, all these things are becoming more intuitive.

"I played well, scored well, it was a good day all around", Woods said.

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