Third round leaderboard:
-14 L Westwood (Eng) -13 R Allenby -12 B Crane (US), L Glover (US), F Molinari (Ita) -11 C Stroud (US), T Clark (SA), C Hoffman (US) H Slocum (US) Selected others: -9 P Mickelson (US) -8 L Donald (Eng) -7 G McDowell (NI) -6 O Wilson (Eng) S Garcia (Spa) -4 T Woods (US)
Westwood was forced to dig deep during his third round
Lee Westwood held his nerve late on to take a one-shot lead into the final round of the Players Championships.
The 37-year-old was not at his best in the third round but shot a two-under-par 70 to finish on 14 under.
He was headed by Heath Slocum during the round but the American fell back to 11 under by dropping four shots.
And it left Australia's Robert Allenby as Westwood's main challenger after an eagle at 16 and a birdie at the 17th lifted him to 13 under.
Westwood, who has finished third, third and second in the last three majors, went into Saturday's round one shot ahead of the field but had a mixed start with birdies at the 2nd and 4th either side of a dropped shot at the 3rd.
Slocum took the lead with three birdies in four holes from the 9th but a disappointing finish was capped at the 17th where he found water off the tee and carded a double bogey to hand the initiative back to Westwood.
He dropped another shot at the 8th before a birdie at the 9th and was solid after that.
"I wasn't looking at the leaderboard," said Westwood. "There is no point looking at it until Sunday.
"I played OK but I didn't make as many putts as I did over the first two days. The greens were definitely trickier today and you couldn't be too aggressive.
"It would mean a a lot for me to win and I've put myself in a good position to do that."
Allenby leads the chasing pack with Italy's Francesco Molinari and American duo Ben Crane and Lucas Glover also well in contention on 12 under, while Masters champion Phil Mickelson has an outside chance on nine under after charging through the field with a 66.
The American, who is hoping to overhaul Tiger Woods and take the world number one spot, was nine behind Westwood after the second round but he cut that to five - and would have been even closer if he had not dropped a shot at the last.
But he shot an impressive 66, which included a dropped shot on the 18th, to move back into contention on nine under - five shots behind the Briton.
If Mickelson wins and Woods ends up lower than fifth, the Masters champion will go to the top of the rankings after 244 weeks in second place.
"It was windy when we played but the greens were a little bit more receptive this morning," said Mickelson. "The golf course evolved like I thought it would in the afternoon. Greens are firmer and the ball is hard to get stopped."
Woods is ten shots off the lead
Woods himself is well back on four under, finishing his round of 71 with back-to-back bogeys.
"When you have the lead in the tournament, it's great. You can afford to make mistakes. You can make bogeys and still win the golf tournament. But when you're trailing, you can't afford to make any bogeys", conceded Woods.
"I need a lot of help, but it doesn't look like that's probably going to be the case. There are too many guys out there [ahead of me]", the 14-times major winner added about Sunday's last round.
Despite being ten shots off the the lead, Woods believes that his overall game has improved since he missed the cut for only the sixth time as a professional at last week's Quail Hollow Championship.
"This is a process ... I just need more rounds. Luckily I've got two rounds here on the weekend. But I'm very pleased so far what I've changed this week and how I've progressed this week", stressed the American.
"You don't turn this thing around overnight and then just go out there and play great golf."