Woods has title in sight after dicing with disaster

 

Bay Hill

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.

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<p>
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
</p>
<p>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
<p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
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