World number one Woods will go into Sundays final round breathing down Howells neck after starting his third round two spots behind Englishmen Howell and Nick Dougherty. A four-under-par 68 from Howell moved him to 16-under 200, preserving his slender advantage over Woods at the $5 million event which marks the start of the 2006 European Tour.
Considering this is the biggest event Asias ever had it would be very special to win, said Woods, who has won six times this year. I just hope I can get the job done tomorrow.
Australias Nick OHern had a bogey-free 67 to give the left-hander a share of second place with Woods after 54 holes. Woods had been furious with himself for several loose shots on Friday and he took three putts from less than 15 ft to bogey the par-four ninth for the second time in three days. The American made a charge on the back nine with birdies on the 11th and 12th before rolling in a 25-foot eagle putt on 14 to close the gap on Howell to one shot.
But with some 2,000 fans crammed in to watch Woods in his first official tournament in China, he bogeyed the 464-yard 15th after pushing his drive and finding a sand trap from the rough. Woods missed a golden chance on the short 17th where a four-footer slipped by the cup but he kept his temper in check and hit back to make his fifth birdie at last.
Howell had his own frustrations after a 68 that could easily have been a 66. Mentally Im not sure how I feel, said the 30-year-old, who ended a six-year wait for a second European Tour title at the BMW International Open.
Thailands Thaworn Wiratchant moved to fourth at 12-under after finishing with three straight birdies in a 69.
US Open champion Michael Campbell fired a 69 to move the New Zealander up to joint fifth on 11-under along with Dougherty, who shot a 73 and Denmarks Thomas Bjorn, who had a 69. Fijis world number two Vijay Singh fired a 70 to go eighth on 10-under.
European number one Colin Montgomerie carded a 68 to go to three-under but complained of fatigue after his exertions in winning a record eighth order of merit title.
The Champions Tournament is co-sanctioned by the European Tour, the Asian Tour, the PGA Tour of Australian and the South African Sunshine Tour.