PALM BEACH GARDENS — Rory McIlroy is 18 holes away from his first PGA Tour victory in 18 months, showing the world he is back on his game.
McIlroy avoided a poor round with a crucial bogey and overcame wind and water on the 16th hole for a birdie Saturday, giving him 1-under 69 and a two-shot lead over Russell Henley in the Honda Classic. McIlroy, who hasn't won a tour event since 2012, was at 12-under 198.
Tiger Woods' 65 matched the day's low round at PGA National, moving him into a tie for 17th. Woods was 5-under 205, seven shots behind McIlroy. Woods barely survived Friday's cut and teed off in the first twosome. He hoped that windy conditions would affect scores and players bunched near the lead would stall.
Woods has never won a tour event when trailing by more than five shots entering the final round.
"Today was a positive day," Woods said. "Hit the ball well and made some putts and got myself back in the hunt."
McIlroy steadily improved this season, finishing a shot back in Abu Dhabi in January and playing in the final group in Dubai last month.
"I've been building and building toward getting my game to a level where I feel it should be," McIlroy said. "And I'm pretty much at that point now."
McIlroy might have saved his round with a bogey on the par-3 seventh. After taking a penalty drop from under a palmetto bush, his shot crossed 20 yards of rough to the green, and he holed the 8-foot putt.
"It was one of the best up-and-downs I've ever had, I guess," McIlroy said.
He closed out with the birdie on 16, then narrowly missed two birdie chances on the closing holes.
Henley had 68, making his charge with an eagle on No. 14 and a birdie putt at the 17th.
"I'm trying not to pay attention to what Rory is doing," Henley said. "Obviously, he's playing great, and he's been in this situation a little bit more than me.''
LPGA: Karrie Webb made three key birdies on the back nine to hold on to a one-stroke lead after the third round of the HSBC Women's Champions in Singapore.
Webb, the 2011 champion, shot 2-under 70 to move to 11-under 205. Angela Stafford matched Webb birdie for birdie over the final five holes for 69 and was one shot back.
Seminole's Brittany Lincicome shot 75 for 3-over 217.