Canadian rookie Conners had his two-shot overnight lead cut in half with 14-time major winner Woods carding a four-under 67 to be in a tie for second at eight under.

Conners signed for a three-under 68 to sit at nine under but will feel the heat on Sunday with Woods, playing partner Brandt Snedeker (67) and England's Justin Rose (66) breathing down his neck.

Adam Scott carded a sizzling five-under round of 66 to vault up the leaderboard and sit at four under.

Cameron Smith (69) is next best of the Aussies at one under while Aaron Baddeley (72) is at two over and Rod Pampling (75) at five over.

In just his fourth official start since spinal fusion surgery last April, Woods has looked assured with his ball striking and short game, and chipped in on the ninth hole as he had five birdies and a lone bogey on Sunday at the Copperhead course at Innisbrook Resort.

The 26-year-old Conners, who was an alternate for the tournament at the start of the week, kept his nerve on the last hole when his ball moved as he took a practice putt and after a ruling from officials tapped in for par.

Woods reacts after a putt on the 17th hole during the third round of the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Resort Copperhead Course. PHOTO: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images.

Woods will again play with Snedeker in the final round, a group in front of the final pairing of Conners and Rose.

"I've played 13 rounds coming back. I've played half of them with Sneds," Woods told NBC sports.

"The environment was incredible. People were into it. I played well, Sneds played well.

"People I think they really got entertained today."

Woods, 42, has won 79 times on the PGA Tour. Victory on Sunday would bring him within two of all-time leader Sam Snead.

Conners is aiming for his maiden Tour win before a crowd rarely seen outside of a major.

Whatever the outcome, Woods has left no doubt in his past two events that he is destined for further glory, as long as his body holds up.

Swinging with a club head speed measured by laser as the fastest in the field on Saturday, he mixed power with precision on a day conducive to low scores.

"I've played myself right there into contention so it should be a fun Sunday," he said.

"The people of Tampa are really into it. It's been incredible."