KAPALUA, Hawaii -- Stuart Appleby needed only two holes to regain the lead yesterday in the Mercedes Championships, and it only got better from there.
Appleby made all the crucial putts, from a 55-foot birdie on No. 7 to a 10-foot par on No. 17, finishing with a 7-under 66 to build a two-shot lead over Vijay Singh and leave everyone else -- Tiger Woods, included -- hoping that Appleby gives them a chance.
At this point, it doesn't look likely.
Appleby, who was at 20-under-par 199, has made 25 birdies against only five bogeys over three rounds in the tough Kona wind blowing off the Maui coastline.
Singh had severe putting challenges, missing several chances from the 10-foot range.
One of the few he converted came on the 18th hole from 4 feet, a birdie that gave him a 4-under 69 and left him within range of winning the first event of the season.
"I'm playing well," Singh said. "I just need that putter to get hot like it did yesterday."
Retief Goosen had only 24 putts and matched the best score of the week with a 9-under 64, leaving him five shots out of the lead.
Darren Clarke shot a 69 and was another stroke back at 14-under 205.
Woods, who missed the Mercedes Championships last year while recovering from knee surgery, finally avoided the big mistakes -- despite two three-putts -- in a round of 65 that put him seven shots behind Appleby.
"I need to shoot 62 or 63 and have a little help," Woods said.
If there was a moment that captured the third round, it came on the 17th hole.
Appleby left himself a 10-footer for par, while Singh was only 5 feet away for birdie. It looked like it would be a two-shot swing that would create a tie, but Appleby drained another -- and Singh wasted another opportunity.
Both made par.
"Everyone says they're tricky, and I guess they are," Appleby said of the greens on the Plantation course at Kapalua. "But if you can just roll a couple of in, you can get on a roll."