Lee Westwood shot a third-round 65 at Bay Hill and will enter Sunday’s finale of the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a one-shot lead.
Entering the day five shots off the pace, the 47-year old Englishman made his first move up the leaderboard with a spectacular run of five birdies in a seven-hole span, including three straight on Nos. 6-8.
“I feel like if you hit the fairways on this golf course it gives you some birdie opportunities. And it’s a golf course that I’ve always felt comfortable on,” said Westwood.
“I’m seeing the lines well on the greens and rolling the ball well. So yeah, I feel like there are birdie opportunities out there if you hit good shots.”
Firmly in the hunt and on the first page of the leaderboard, the former world No. 1 made a final charge by closing eagle-par-birdie to secure the 54-hole marquee position on 11-under par.
Afterwards, Westwood, who’ll be 48 next month, credited his putting and familiarity with the greens, “I know I putted well today. There were two 3-putts in there and a short miss on 2 where I misread the grain.
“So, yeah, yeah, I know on these greens I see a good line and I’m rolling the ball well. I’ve got good speed to my putter head.”
One back was Bryson DeChambeau, who posted a 4-under 68, featuring a scorecard comprised of two bogeys and six birdies, including three in a four-hole stretch (Nos. 4, 6, and 7). The gain on the No. 6 was highlighted by a 370-yard bomb off the tee which carried the water on the par-5 hole.
“Oh, man, I felt like a kid again, for sure. It was exciting. Especially when you pull it off and you know — it was almost like winning a tournament,” said DeChambeau when asked about the tee ball on No. 6.
“I don’t know. It’s kind of the feeling I had, it was like, ‘Oh, I did it.’ I got the same chills and feeling when I saw it clear and there was no splash, it was like, ‘Yes!’ I gave the fans what they wanted.”
Tied with DeChambeau at 10 under was overnight leader Corey Conners, who couldn’t muster much of anything on Saturday at Bay Hill, settling on 1 under 71.
The low round of the day belonged to Keegan Bradley, who finished with a bogey-free 8-under 64. The New England native carded 11 pars, six birdies, and one eagle (No. 6) en route to a three-day score of 9-under 207.
Also at 9 under was a resurgent Jordan Spieth, who couldn’t have started his day any more perfect, going birdie-ace (yes, birdie and hole-in-one!). He followed with four straight pars and then added a second highlight-reel shot: a hole-out birdie from a greenside bunker on No. 7.
After turning in 32, Spieth added two more birdies on Nos. 10 and 12 to briefly pull into the lead at 11 under. But the 27-year old Texan closed his final six holes with four pars and two bogeys, dropping back to 9 under, and two off the pace of Westwood.
Tommy Fleetwood, who will be paired with Spieth on Sunday, was alone in sixth after a third-round 68.
A four-player logjam, headlined by Rory McIlroy (72), rounded out the top 10 on the leaderboard.
Arnold Palmer Invitational
Pos-Player-To Par (Rd 3)
1. Lee Westwood -11 (-7)
2. Bryson DeChambeau -10 (-4)
2. Corey Conners -10 (-1)
4. Keegan Bradley -9 (-8)
4. Jordan Spieth -9 (-4)
6. Tommy Fleetwood -8 (-4)
7. Doug Ghim -7 (-7)
7. Rory McIlroy -7 (E)
7. Jazz Janewattananond -7 (-3)
7. Richy Werenski -7 (-3)
Sunday’s Final Pairings
1:15 pm – Werenski (-7), McIlroy (-7)
1:25 pm – Ghim (-7), Jazz (-7)
1:35 pm – Fleetwood (-8), Spieth (-9)
1:45 pm – Conners (-10), Bradley (-9)
1:55 pm – DeChambeau (-10), Westwood (-11)
DraftKing Sportsbook’s Odds
To Win/Top 5/Top 10
Bryson DeChambeau +225/-345/-2000
Lee Westwood +450/-175/-625
Corey Conners +550/-136/-400
Jordan Spieth +600/-125/-345
Keegan Bradley +1100/+138/-200
Tommy Fleetwood +1100/+138/-200
Rory McIlroy +1100/+138/-200
Q: “Walk us through the ace.”
JORDAN SPIETH: “Oh, yeah. I hit a 5-iron, it was 205 front, 220 hole, and the wind wasn’t blowing very hard, so I was trying to peel it left to right to hold the wind and land it a little right of the hole.
“I hit it a little thin but it was right on the line I wanted and knowing that the grass was wet, you get some skid, I thought in the air it was going to be pretty good.
“Certainly not as good as it was. But I just wanted kind of one hop, because I just mishit it slightly — and a lot of times those are the ones that that happens, your perfect shots don’t go in, but then sometimes the ones where the unexpected.
“So that was cool. That was obviously a really cool moment.”