ORLANDO, Fla. — Even with a bizarre sequence of events that cost Tiger Woods a comfortable lead Saturday, he walked off the 18th green at the Arnold Palmer Invitational as close as he has ever been to ending 30 months without a PGA Tour victory.

ORLANDO, Fla. — Even with a bizarre sequence of events that cost Tiger Woods a comfortable lead Saturday, he walked off the 18th green at the Arnold Palmer Invitational as close as he has ever been to ending 30 months without a PGA Tour victory.

He had a one-shot lead, and no one in golf has a more formidable record as a front-runner.

He was hitting the ball so well that Woods had the putter in his hand for a birdie attempt on 38 consecutive holes.

And he was at Bay Hill, where he already has won six times.

"If you're in the lead, you've done some good things," Woods said after recovering from a late double bogey for a 1-under 71. "That's how I've always looked at it. And it's a nice position to be in."

Better yet would be posing with Palmer in a trophy presentation.

But there's still one round to go before that happens, and a familiar face alongside him in the final group.

Graeme McDowell, the former U.S. Open champion who rallied from four shots behind to beat Woods in the Chevron World Challenge at the end of 2010, didn't make a birdie until the 17th hole but kept bogeys off his card for a 71.

"There's a fair bit of expectations on Tiger," McDowell said. "He's looking to complete the comeback tomorrow because there's no doubt he's playing great. He's got the ball under control. But he's got to go out there and try to win tomorrow, the same way I do and a lot of other players that have got the opportunity to win."

It will be the 40th time Woods has taken the lead into the final round on the PGA Tour. He has failed to win just twice, one of those times as a 20-year-old in his third start as a pro.

Woods was more interested in winning for the 72nd time on tour than the 30 months it has taken to get to this point.

"I'm looking forward to tomorrow. I'm looking forward to getting out there and playing and competing again," Woods said. "As far as what it would mean? It would mean No. 72. Not a bad number, either."

Woods last won a PGA Tour event at the BMW Championship on Sept. 13, 2009. He won in Australia two months later to close out his season, but his life changed forever a short time later in perhaps the most spectacular downfall of any athlete.

That all seems to be such a distant memory, even two weeks ago when he withdrew in the middle of the final round at Doral with tightness in his left Achilles tendon.

Woods cut a more familiar figure Saturday.

"It was a solid day," said Woods, who was at 11-under 205. "Just happened to have one little fluke thing where a kid passed out."

He had a four-shot lead after a birdie on the 13th hole when he made what he called his one bad swing, pulling his tee shot into a buried lie in the bunker on the 14th for a bogey.

On the 15th tee, an 18-year-old passed out and a woman screamed when she saw it — all while Woods was in the middle of his swing. He was too far along to stop, and hooked his tee shot out-of-bounds near a swimming pool.

That led to a double bogey, and McDowell tied him for the lead with his birdie on the 17th. Woods, however, hit a daring shot out of the fairway bunker and over the water to 20 feet for a two-putt birdie on the 16th to regain the lead.

Woods was runner-up at the Honda Classic three weeks ago when he closed with a 62, though he never had the outright lead.

He'll be alongside McDowell, who last August was asked whether Woods' mystique had eroded. Woods had not played for three months because of leg injuries, and McDowell was asked if that red shirt meant anything.

"That's his trademark," McDowell said. "Really, I think that's all it is right now. What it means to him is obviously a different thing. What it means to the rest of us ... it's not really something to be intimidated by anymore."

McDowell is aware how well Woods is playing, and how dominant Woods can be in the game. His focus was on a Bay Hill course that was dry, firm and reminiscent of some U.S. Open setups.

"The golf course is going to be the main competitor tomorrow," McDowell said.

Kia Classic

At Carlsbad, Calif., top-ranked Yani Tseng remained in position for her second straight LPGA Tour title and third in five events this year, shooting a bogey-free 3-under 69 to take a three-stroke lead into the final round of the Kia Classic.

Tseng missed a 5-foot birdie try on the par-5 17th, then saved par with an 8-foot putt on the par-4 18th to finish at 12-under 204 on La Costa's Legends Course

Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic

At Saucier, Miss., Jeff Sluman shot an 8-under 64 to climb into a tie with Fred Couples for the second-round lead in the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic.

Sluman birdied five of his final seven holes in his bogey-free round to reach 11 under at Fallen Oak. Couples birdied all six holes Saturday morning in the completion of the suspended first round for a course-record 63, then shot a 70.