Miami - Australia's Jason Day fired a two-under par 70 Saturday to maintain a two-stroke lead after the rainy third round of the US PGA Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.
The 2015 PGA Championship winner stood on 15-under 201 after 54 holes in the warmup event for next month's Masters, the year's first major tournament.
Americans Troy Merritt and Kevin Chappell each fired 67s Saturday to leap into a share of second on 203 with Sweden's Henrik Stenson, who shot 70, with Britain's Justin Rose and American Derek Fathauer sharing fifth on 205.
Stenson and Rose joined Day in the last trio at Bay Hill in Orlando, Florida, where tee times were moved earlier due to forecasts for worse weather by late afternoon.
Day kept the two-stroke lead with which he began the round, hoping to become the first 36-hole leader to win since Tiger Woods in 2012. The Aussie is only 1-for-7 at converting 36-hole leads into titles, having done so in his most recent PGA triumph, last September's BMW Championship.
Day, who began the round with a two-shot lead, found a greenside bunker at the par-3 second and made bogey, missing a 15-foot par putt. But he answered with birdies at the par-5 fourth and sixth and par-4 eighth, the last coming when he popped the ball in from 48 feet out of greenside rough.
The Aussie found the water on his second shot at the 11th and took another bogey but responded at the par-5 16th, just missing a 26-foot eagle putt but tapping in for birdie.
Stenson sizzled early with tap-in birdies at the fourth and fifth and a 13-foot eagle putt at the par-5 sixth. But the Swede gave one back at the par-3 seventh, finding a bunker off the tee, and took another bogey at the par-5 12th, again finding a bunker off the tee and then missing an eight-foot par putt.
Rose, who fied a 71, took a bogey at the second but the Englishman bounced back with birdies at the fourth and ninth. He was off by inches on a 45-foot eagle putt at the par-5 16th but his tap-in birdie was offset by a bogey at the par-3 17th, missing the green off the tee and a five-foot par putt.
Merritt made two runs of three birdies in four holes, the first from the par-5 fourth to par-3 seventh and the other to end his round, to jump among the leaders.
Chappell birdied four of the first six holes, made his lone bogey at seven and birdied 10 and 15 to stay on Day's heels.Leading scores on Saturday after the third round of the US PGA Arnold
Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Orlando, Florida, (USA unless noted,
par 72, a- amateur):
201 - Jason Day (AUS) 66-65-70
203 - Troy Merritt 67-69-67, Kevin Chappell 68-68-67, Henrik Stenson (SWE) 67-66-70
205 - Derek Fathauer 70-66-69, Justin Rose (ENG) 68-66-71
207 - Emiliano Grillo (ARG) 68-71-68, Jamie Lovemark 68-68-71
208 - Smylie Kaufman 69-71-68, Zach Johnson 70-70-68, Chris Kirk 68-71, K.J. Choi (KOR) 68-70-70
- Francesco Molinari (ITA) 68-72-69, David Hearn (CAN) 71-67-71, Chris
Wood 69-69-71, Rob Oppenheim 70-68-71, Paul Casey (ENG) 68-69-72
- Andy Sullivan (ENG) 70-70-70, Adam Scott (AUS) 67-73-70, Patrick
Rodgers 70-70-70, Brian Harman 69-71-70, Hideki Matsuyama (JPN)
70-69-71, Jason Kokrak 70-68-72
211 - Jonas Blixt (SWE) 72-68-71,
Charles Howell 72-71-68, Cameron Tringale 68-71-72, Marc Leishman
67-70-74, An Byeong-Hun (KOR) 74-70-67