McIlroy, 28, began the day outside the top 10 and six off the lead, but began to make his move on the front nine, turning in two-under 34 before dropping his first shot of the day at the par-4 11th. "I've got a headache after all that".
"I still feel like I'm coming back", said Woods, who is on the comeback trail after spinal fusion surgery last April. "I got it up-and-down when I needed to and I took advantage of some of the good shots I hit". An impromptu lesson earlier this week with Brad Faxon, one of the best putters on tour during his career, may have given McIlroy an answer he was searching for. "And I'm going to miss those times, for sure". The two met for a few hours down where both live in Palm Beach Gardens. "It was more of a psychology lesson than anything else". It's the first time Woods has been favored to win a PGA Tour event since Torrey Pines in 2014. McIlroy has gone 26 tournaments since his last victory at the TOUR Championship in 2016 to win the FedExCup.
Rose's position is rather remarkable considering his start to the tournament this week. Ryan Moore (67) also was three back.
His six birdies were countered by three bogeys, including a wobbly effort on the second hole and another dropped shot on the 17th when his ball became plugged in a bunker.
He had a one-shot lead with four holes to play in 2015 when he had consecutive three-putts - one for bogey, another for par - and Matt Every beat him with an 18-foot birdie on the last hole.
When he slipped home a 12-footer to birdie the 18 and ignite more thunder, Woods casually assessed the situation and stayed unfazed by the commotion. He won in 2013 by two shots over Justin Rose, a victory that returned him to No. 1 in the world.
"I know Phoenix", Woods said, referring to the Waste Management Phoenix Open, "guys were telling me this year, they were yelling and trying to time it".
"I think St. Patrick's Day is bigger over here than in Ireland", said McIlroy, who shot a 5-under 67 on Saturday and is two shots off the lead going into Sunday's final round.