Spain’s Sergio Garcia moved two shots clear with a round to play at The Barclays in Farmingdale as he chased back-to-back titles on the PGA Tour.
The 32-year-old won last week’s Wyndham Championships to book himself in for Ryder Cup duty at Medinah next month.
And he has carried momentum from that success into this week, with a third sub-70 round giving him an outstanding chance today.
Garcia followed rounds of 66 and 68 with one of 69, which took him two ahead of halfway leader Nick Watney and three clear of Watney’s fellow American Kevin Stadler whose six-under-par 65 was the lowest score of the day.
While Garcia led on 10-under-par 203, the immediate threat posed by Watney and Stadler may not prove the main obstacle over the closing 18 holes.
Fourth place was shared by Americans Brandt Snedeker and Bob Estes, after rounds of 68 and 72 respectively put them six under.
And further down the field there was the sight of a charging Phil Mickelson who was one of three – William McGirt and Tim Clark the others – to shoot 67 and jump from par to four under for a share of 10th place.
Lee Westwood and Louis Oosthuizen both had rounds of three-under 68 to join what was an eight-player bunch on four under. Tiger Woods was among them, but he had taken a wrong turn on moving day, a one-over 72 containing four three-putts not what the former world number one required.
Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald both nudged up to two under after posting rounds of 69, while Vijay Singh was alongside them on the same score after a 76 undid his fine efforts on Thursday and Friday.
Garcia, who had not won on the PGA Tour since 2008 before this month, actually wrapped up his Wyndham Championship title on Monday, after rain forced the tournament into an extra day.
He won back-to-back titles on the European Tour last October, at the Castello Masters and Andalucia Masters, so knows it can be done.
But as he completed another impressive round, the three-time major championship runner-up preferred to rest up rather than focus too keenly on the challenge that lies ahead.
“At the moment, I want to go back to the hotel, take a nice shower, and relax,” he said. “I don’t want to think about tomorrow at all.
“There will be plenty of thinking tomorrow. So I just want to go out there and try to play the way I’ve been playing, try to believe in what I’m doing as much as I’ve been doing, and if I manage to win, that will be great.
“If I don’t, it will still be great. I’ll be giving it my best effort, so we’ll see.”
Watney knows he will have the form player on tour alongside him when he goes out tomorrow.
“I’m just going to need to hang around,” Watney said. “If Sergio goes out and shoots four or five under, you’ve just got to tip your hat.
“But I’m super excited to be in the last group.”
Woods is not giving up on the title yet, despite his putting woes on greens which were particularly fast.
“Trust me, I was certainly frustrated,” Woods said. “I kept telling myself I’m right in the ball game and no one was going anywhere. Nobody was running away with it.”
He was determined to stay in the leading pack so to fall away was a frustration.
“At one point, I was; I was three back of the lead,” Woods said. “Unfortunately I didn’t stay there but hopefully tomorrow I can put it together.”