ORLANDO, Fla. — The gallery crammed behind the ropes from tee to green on the opening hole, the enthusiasm at full throttle over the prospect of a showdown between Tiger Woods and Ernie Els.
All they got Saturday was the Tiger Woods Show.
Dominant in every phase of the game, Woods left his top rival and everyone else in his wake with a 6-under 66 that gave him a five-stroke lead and put him on the verge of his fourth straight victory in the Bay Hill Invitational.
"He's still the man," said Els, whose four-shot deficit to start the third round was twice that much after only six holes.
"Tiger just did his thing. He was relentless today."
Woods and Els, the top two golfers in the world, had not even made eye contact in five months until they greeted each other on the practice green about 20 minutes before they headed to the first tee.
Woods said goodbye with three birdies on his first five holes and another magical display with his short game and his driving. He played 29 holes Saturday — 11 of them in the morning to finish the rain-delayed second round — and made 12 birdies.
"On this golf course, if you drive it well you're going to have some pretty good opportunities," said Woods, who has missed only five fairways all week.
He was at 15-under 201 and led by five over Brad Faxon, who had a 65.
Woods is 27-2 with at least a share of the 54-hole lead in PGA Tour events, and he has never lost when leading by more than one stroke going into the final round.
"I'd love to be that 'never' guy," Faxon said.
That might be a long shot at Bay Hill, a tournament that Woods owns. This is the fourth straight year he has led after 54 holes.
Woods can become the first player to win the same tournament four straight times since Gene Sarazen in the Miami Open from 1926 to 1930. The Miami Open wasn't played in 1927, when it switched from a fall to a spring date.
"I knew I had to take care of business today and set myself up for tomorrow," he said. "You have to put all that stuff aside and focus on what you need to do."
Faxon also played in the final group with Woods at Torrey Pines, starting only one stroke behind and finishing five back. Asked what was a reasonable deficit to make up on Woods, Faxon smiled and said, "How about him four strokes behind?"
"One of my goals is to play more with Tiger, and not in the practice rounds," Faxon said. "He's the favorite. There's no superlatives left."
SAFEWAY PING: At Phoenix, Annika Sorenstam's new year is already starting to look a lot like her old one.
In relentless pursuit of her first win of the season, Sorenstam shot a 7-under-par 65 to take a two-stroke lead into the final round of the Safeway Ping tournament.
The most dominant player in women's golf, winning 11 tournaments last year, Sorenstam birdied three of her first four holes and nine overall to get to 18 under through three rounds at the Moon Valley Country Club.
Sorenstam, who has improved by one shot each day, was two strokes ahead of Frenchwoman Patricia Meunier-Lebouc. Two more strokes back at 15 under were Karrie Webb, Se Ri Pak and Grace Park.
TOSHIBA CLASSIC: At Newport Beach, Calif., Australia's Rodger Davis shot a 7-under 64 to take a two-stroke lead over Jim Ahern into the final round of the Toshiba Senior Classic.
Jose Maria Canizares shot his second consecutive 5-under 66 to move into third place with a two-day total of 132.