Stenson takes the lead at Bay Hill; Tiger 5 strokes back

Clyde Nash
March 19, 2018

The group of Arnold Palmer Invitational contenders entering Sunday is absolutely loaded with names and characters.

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.

McIlroy, who is seeking his first victory in the United States since the Tour Championship in 2016, was 1 under for the day when he eagled the par-5 12th hole with a 7-foot putt.

Woods made another bold play on the par-5 16th, this time with his ball near the lip of a bunker.

Winless for nine years, Casey, 40, had actually won it by 2-1/2 feet-the distance that Woods' sudden death-sending putt had stopped before the cup, from 40 feet on 18.

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

The Northern Irishman posted a close-range birdie at the fourth and rolled in from 12 feet at the ninth, before bouncing back from bogeying the 11th to eagle the next and pick up two shots over his final three holes.

"They want to try and replicate that, which is great - it's great for the tournament, it's great for us - but golf is different than a football game, and there's etiquette involved, and you don't want people to be put off from bringing their kids when people are shouting stuff out", he said. And with his lack of experience, DeChambeau couldn't help but look over his shoulder at McIlroy and Rose, or even Rickie Fowler four shots behind, and yes, Woods.

"I think every week I'm good enough to win or play my best, " DeChambeau said.

The 14-time major victor three-putted the ninth for a second bogey of the day but birdied the 12th and 16th and narrowly missed from 15 feet for another on the last as he seeks a first victory since 2013. He was seven shots back. Rory McIlroy has said in recent weeks that with so much commotion, it costs Woods a half-shot per round. "I've got a headache after all that".

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"Today was just a bad day", he said.

"Worked on my swing a little bit, found a feeling, found something I could go with for this week and maybe beyond", McIlroy said. "I can't really ask for much more".

Speaking about his lengthy birdie putt on the seventh, Woods added: "It was coming over that hill a little too quick".

"Over the weekend past year I was hitting driver pretty much everywhere, leaving myself wedges in".

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

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