Appleby zoomed into the lead with four straight birdies, then pulled away from Chad Campbell on the back nine to take command Saturday with a 6-under 66, putting the Aussie in good position to become the first multiple winner on the PGA Tour this year.
Appleby, who won the season-opening Mercedes Championships at Kapalua, was at 16-under 200 and had a four-shot lead over Campbell (70), the only American among the top five on the leaderboard.
For the first time in five years at Bay Hill, Tiger Woods was not on top -- not even close.
Trying to become the first player to win the same tournament five straight years, Woods had another double bogey early in his round and stumbled to a second straight 2-over 74, leaving him 15 shots out of the lead.
'Hey, I tried my best,' Woods said. 'It's not going to happen.'
It might not have mattered how Woods played in the third round, which he began nine shots out of the lead. The show belonged to Appleby and Campbell, who put on a fabulous display with their putters until Campbell made just enough mistakes to fall behind.
Campbell, who matched birdies with Appleby as they took over the tournament, failed to save par from behind the par-3 14th green, then took another bogey when he drove behind a tree on the next hole to fall three behind.
Gritty as ever, Campbell kept the deficit from getting out of hand by saving par from a plugged lie on the downslope of a bunker on the 17th, blasting out to 3 feet. Before he had a chance to tap that in, Appleby holed a 20-foot par putt, the kind of putt Campbell watched him make all day.
Campbell dropped a shot on the closing hole, driving into the right rough and having to play short of the green.
He and Appleby will play in the final group Sunday in what shaped up a two-man race.
Adam Scott closed with three straight birdies for a 4-under 68, leaving him six shots behind at 10-under 206.
Shigeki Maruyama started Saturday with a two-shot lead, but that didn't last long. The Japanese star failed to make a single birdie, and his lead was gone by the time he stepped on the sixth tee. He shot 75 and was seven shots out of the lead.
Darren Clarke tried to keep pace with the leaders, but he went from the bunker into the water on the 13th hole and made double bogey, then bogeyed the last two holes for a 74.
Clarke was at 208 in a large group that included John Daly, who overcame two double bogeys to shoot a 2-under 70.
Daly likely won't win Bay Hill from eight shots behind, but he kept alive his hopes of getting into the Masters. He is No. 63 in the world ranking and needs to get into the top 50 after The Players Championship next week. Finishing at least fourth might be enough to crack the top 50.
'I like the way I'm playing,' Daly said. 'I've just got to quit making double bogeys.'
Woods feels the same way.
Trying to get back into the hunt, Woods tried to chew off a chunk of the lake wrapping around the par-5 sixth, but came a yard short of land and made double bogey, effectively ending his tournament. The last time he had back-to-back rounds over par in a tournament was at the PGA Championship, when he was over all four rounds.
Appleby had little reason to believe he would have such a big lead by the end of the day when he opened with a three-putt bogey. He also three-putted for par on the par-5 fourth, missing from 4 feet.
It seemed like he never missed another putt the rest of the day.
His great run began on No. 5 when he holed a 45-foot putt that was so pure his caddie raised his arm when the ball was still 4 feet from the hole. Appleby followed that by blasting out of a bunker to 8 feet for birdie on the next hole, then he made two more birdies -- from 30 feet on No. 7, and from 40 feet on the fringe at No. 8.
When that one dropped -- just like the rest of them, in the center of the cup -- he raised his hand and offered a dismissive wave before breaking into a smile.
Campbell was just as impressive during that stretch, three times making birdie on top of Appleby. He also made a 25-foot putt on No. 8, but that was for par after he drove right into the trees and had to pitch back to the fairway.
Appleby could take over the lead on the money list by winning Sunday, which comes with a $900,000 check. Recent history is on his side. In 10 stroke-play tournaments this year, only once has the 54-hole leader failed to win.
Divots: Campbell has played the par-3 second hole this week in 2 under par, even though he has yet to hit the green. He chipped in for birdie Thursday, holed a bunker shot for birdie Friday, and hit an awkward bunker shot to 2 feet to save par in the third round. 'Maybe tomorrow I'll hit the green,' he said. ... Appleby had five top-three finishes in his last 10 events on the PGA Tour coming into Bay Hill. ... Vijay Singh had a 2-under 70 and was in a tie for 13th, although 10 shots out of the lead.
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