Woods has title in sight after dicing with disaster


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The Independent Online

With the Masters less than two weeks away, Tiger Woods stayed on course for the Arnold Palmer Invitational title here in Orlando, taking a one-shot lead over Graeme McDowell into today's final round.

But it was not all plain sailing for Woods by any means as he had some wayward moments, notably a wild hook leading to a double bogey at the 15th, on his way to a one-under 71 for 205. By contrast, McDowell was steadiness personified, repairing the damage from a bogey at the third with a birdie at the fourth before embarking on a run of pars to the 17th, where he picked up a shot to match Woods with a 71 .

Lurking two shots further back are Ian Poulter, who had an eagle, four birdies and two bogeys in his 68, despite still recovering from a bout of pneumonia, and Ernie Els. The South African brought back shades of the old days with a storming five-under 67, with six birdies and only one blemish, at the 15th. He needs to finish on his own in third place to regain a place in the top 50 in time for The Masters. Only a week ago he led the Transitions Championship by one with two to play, but bogeyed them both and dropped to fifth.

Woods, trying for his first PGA Tour victory since September 2009, was four clear with five holes of his third round to go, but then came a bogey followed by his disastrous 15th, which appeared to threaten his challenge for a seventh title in this tournament. A glare at the crowd was Woods' response to his horrible hook out of bounds, which almost found water – in the swimming pool at a neighbouring home.

Having scrambled to his six he then drove into a bunker at the long 16th, but from there the Woods of old was restored as he recovered to secure a birdie and parred his way home.