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Woods holds narrow lead heading into Bay Hill final round

updated 5:22 AM EDT, Sun March 25, 2012
Tiger Woods struck the ball impressively from tee to green during his third round in Florida.
Tiger Woods struck the ball impressively from tee to green during his third round in Florida.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Tiger Woods leads after third round of Arnold Palmer Invitational
  • Woods shoots a one-under 71 at Bay Hill for 11-under 205
  • Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell nearest challenger at 10-under
  • Ernie Els moves into contention after superb 67

(CNN) -- Tiger Woods will take a one-shot lead into the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill bidding for his first PGA Tour victory since September 2009.

Woods shot a one-under 71 Saturday for a three round total of 11-under 205 with Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland his nearest challenger.

2010 U.S. Open champion McDowell also carded a 71 in testing conditions in Florida, but has been given encouragement by late slip ups by Woods.

The six-time Bay Hill champion looked set to hold a big lead going into the last round as he led McDowell by four shots with five holes to go.

But a bogey on the 14th and a double bogey on the next, the apparent victim of noise from the gallery as he drove out of bounds, saw his advantage disappear.

McDowell finally made a birdie after a run of straight pars to draw level, but Woods birdied the long 16th and parred home to maintain a slender lead.

South African veteran Ernie Els shot a best of the day 67 to go into a tie for third at eight under with England's Ian Poulter, who carded a battling 68.

Els has to finish in third to have a chance of moving back into the world's top 50 and getting an invite to the U.S. Masters.

McDowell will be hoping for a repeat of his win at the invitational Chevron World Challenge in 2010 when he came back from four shots behind to beat last-day partner Woods.

14-time grand slam champion Woods won the 2011 edition of the World Challenge tournament he hosts but is still searching for a comeback win in a full-field event.

He holds a 37-2 lead going into the final round of PGA Tour events.

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