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Martin Laird leads by two shots at Bay Hill

Two-shot swing on the 16th is key for Laird, who is two up on Spencer Levin in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Tiger Woods shoots 74 to fall well off the pace.

March 26, 2011|By Jeff Shain
  • Martin Laird plays a shot on the seventh hole during the third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge on Saturday.
Martin Laird plays a shot on the seventh hole during the third round of the… (Sam Greenwood / Getty Images )

Reporting from Orlando, Fla. — Shrugging off two back-nine bogeys, Martin Laird birdied Bay Hill's par-five 16th hole as part of a two-shot swing that gave him the lead entering the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

While Spencer Levin plunked his third shot into the water, Laird just missed the green in two and chipped inside five feet for a birdie that broke a deadlock. Two pars finished off a two-under-par 70 and a two-shot advantage.

This marks the third time Laird takes a lead into the final round, though he has yet to convert. His lone PGA Tour victory came two years ago in Las Vegas, where he came from two shots off the pace.

"I know that I've got to go out and chase as hard as I can right from the first shot," said the Scotsman, who completed three rounds at 11-under 205. "Do that all the way through 18 and hopefully end up on top."

Arnold Palmer Invitational leaderboard

Levin's bogey at No.16 was his second in a row, though he steadied the ship for a 71 that left him two back.

"It was pretty frustrating," the Northern California native said, "but I ended up one-putting [No.] 16 for a six. Any time you one-putt a hole, that's good, right? It wasn't frustrating enough to let it cost me."

Bubba Watson (68) and Steve Marino (71) were another two shots back in a tie for third at seven under, with Rickie Fowler and David Toms at six under.

Tiger Woods notched his first eagle in PGA Tour competition in nearly a year but also put two in with the fishes as a 74 closed the door on any chance of ending his winless run.

Woods caromed his approach shot off the rocks guarding the 13th green on the way to a double bogey. Three holes later, he appeared to slip during his swing in a fairway bunker that ended with his ball plunking into a stream.

That ended with a bogey, which he countered with a birdie at No.17. But the day still left him at one under for the week — and 10 shots off the lead.

Woods' card covered a wide spectrum — one eagle, two birdies, four bogeys and the double.

"A round that should've been under par pretty easily was over par," he said.

Phil Mickelson also had a roller coaster round on the way to a 69, filling his card with six birdies and three bogeys. That left him at two under and nine behind Laird.

jshain@orlandosentinel.com

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