McIlroy avoided a big number early in his round and narrowly missed birdie chances late. He wound up with a 1-under 69 for a two-shot lead over Russell Henley going into the final round. The 24-year-old from Northern Ireland is going for his first PGA Tour win in 18 months.
Tiger Woods moved up 49 spots with a 65 playing in the second group of the day. He finished two hours before McIlroy started and wound up in a tie for 17th, though he was still seven shots behind.
Henley holed out form 150 yards for eagle on No. 14 on his way to a 68.
McIlroy was at 12-under 198. He won the 2012 tournament.
HSBC WOMEN'S CHAMPIONS
SINGAPORE (AP)—Australia's Karrie Webb shot a 2-under 70 to take a one-stroke lead over American Angela Stanford after the third round of the HSBC Women's Champions.
Webb had an 11-under 205 total on Sentosa's Serapong Course. The 39-year-old Hall of Famer, the 2011 Singapore winner at Tanah Merah, won the Women's Australian Open two weeks ago for her 40th LPGA Tour title.
Stanford, the 2012 winner at Tanah Merah, had a 69.
Spain's Azahara Munoz and Taiwan's Teresa Lu were 8 under. Munoz shot 67, and Lu had a 70.
CENTURION, South Africa (AP)—England's Ross Fisher increased his lead to five strokes in the Tshwane Open, shooting a 5-under 67 to reach 18 under at The Els Club at Cooperleaf.
Fisher won the last of his four European Tour titles in 2010.
Northern Ireland's Michael Hoey was second after a 69.