Martin Laird already had lost a four-shot lead Saturday at Bay Hill, and as his 6-iron on the par-3 17th began to fade weakly toward the pond, he wondered if a two-shot lead would disappear even quicker.
He was happy to see it land in the bunker, some 80 feet from the flag. Then came a long blast from the sand to 6 feet, and a par save that felt like a birdie. It was like that all day at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, only one thing didn't change.
Laird never surrendered the lead.
The 28-year-old Scot made it through an up-and-down day with a 2-under 70 and had a two-shot lead over Spencer Levin entering today's final round (2:30 p.m., Ch. 2).
"That was a big one," Laird said of his par save on the 17th, one hole after a two-shot swing gave him a cushion. "I was lucky. I wasn't sure if it was going to make it over the water."
Now comes the hard part.
Laird was at 11-under 205. This is the third time in his last 12 stroke-play events on the PGA Tour that he has been atop the leaderboard going into the final round, and the last two ended with someone else celebrating. At The Barclays, it was Matt Kuchar hitting a 7-iron to 30 inches to beat him in a playoff. In Las Vegas, it was Jonathan Byrd making a hole-in-one to win a three-man playoff.
Six-time Bay Hill winner Tiger Woods had another Saturday swoon, trading an eagle and birdies with bogeys and a double bogey that sent him to a 2-over 74 and left him 10 shots out of the lead.
"Hopefully, the wind blows tomorrow and I can post a good one," Woods said. "And I can get a little momentum going into Augusta."
>Shin ahead at Kia
INDUSTRY, Calif. -- Second-ranked Jiyai Shin shot a 3-under 70 to take a one-stroke lead over Sandra Gal after the third round of the Kia Classic.
Shin, the South Korean star who has eight LPGA Tour victories, had a 15-under 204 total on the Industry Hills Golf Club course at Pacific Palms. Gal, from Germany, also shot a 70.