Miami: Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy played their way into contention on Saturday at the Cadillac Championship but American Bubba Watson remained atop the leaderboard at the World Golf Championship event.
Watson fired a five-under par 67 to stand on 17-under 199 through 54 holes. He was three strokes ahead of England's Justin Rose and American Keegan Bradley entering the final round of the $8.5 million event at Doral.
"I wanted to play good," Watson said. "I just tried to keep my head down and I somehow grinded out a pretty good score."
Watson, who fired a 62 on Friday to grab the lead, opened eagle-birdie, answered a bogey at the par-3 fourth with a birdie on five and had back-to-back birdies before closing the front nine with another bogey.
Birdies at the par-5 12th and par-4 14th and a bogey at the par-4 16th followed by a pair of pars that closed out his round in mixed fashion.
"I'm looking at it as a positive," Watson said. "Two 3-putts, which is not technical or mental. I just didn't hit the speeds I needed to hit. I'm just looking forward to the challenge tomorrow."
Bradley fired a bogey-free 66 and said that was a greater feat than sinking six birdies.
"It's playing real tough out there," he said.
Rose, who ran off with four birdies in a row from the eighth through 11th holes, closed with a bogey to fall out of the final pairing on Sunday with a round of 69.
Sweden's Peter Hanson was fourth on 204, one stroke ahead of Americans Matt Kuchar and Zach Johnson with American Johnson Wagner alone in seventh on 206.
McIlroy and Woods were next on 207 in a group that also included England's Luke Donald, Germany's Martin Kaymer, South African Charl Schwartzel and American Webb Simpson.
McIlroy, playing his first event as golf's World No. 1, birdied the par-4 second on a chip-in and added another at the third, then ran off three birdies in a row from the fifth through seventh holes and dropped another at the ninth.
"I chipped in a birdie at two. That sort of got me going," McIlroy said. "To shoot 30 with two pars on the par-5s is pretty good."
When he eagled to begin the back nine and birdied the 12th, visions of a magical round of 59 to match the tour record crept into his mind. Bogeys at the par-4 14th and 16th ended that dream.
"I needed four more," said McIlroy, who posted a 65. "It's just a shame that I bogeyed 14 and I couldn't really get back in it."
Woods opened with three birdies in a row and added another at six before stumbling back with a bogey at the par-5 eighth. He started the back nine with a birdie, took bogeys at 12 and 14 but finished solid with birdies at 16 and 18, the last a four-footer after the closest approach shot at 18 of the day.
"I had it rolling and unfortunately made a mistake at eight and a mistake at 12," Woods said after signing for his 68. "Other than that it was a pretty good day."
Woods fired a 62 last Sunday to threaten eventual winner McIlroy at the Honda Classic and said he might match the best final-round of his career again.
"Bubba shot it," Woods said. "A lot of it depends on the wind. We will see. Hopefully tomorrow I can get it going again."