Marc Leishman says continuing his hot performance off the tee will be key to reeling in Tournament of Champions 54-hole leader Gary Woodland.
An emotionally charged Woodland, whose grandmother died on Friday, drained a stunning 63-foot eagle putt during a five-under-par 68 on day three at the US PGA Tour’s winners-only event in Hawaii.
It gave the 34-year-old a 17-under total and a three-shot lead over four-time major winner Rory McIlroy (68) heading into Sunday’s final round.
Leishman also signed for a 68 that left him well within reach in outright third place at 13 under.
For the third-consecutive day, big-hitting Woodland made light work of a windswept, 7500-yard Plantation course on Maui.
But the American admitted his mind was elsewhere on Saturday.
“I lost my grandma last night. I got that phone call late last night. That’s been tough,” Woodland said.
“I’ll definitely have a little extra emotion with me but we’ll get through it.”
Woodland and fellow big bomber McIlroy will play in the final group.
World No.20 Leishman will be in the second last group and likes his chances of making up the four-shot deficit.
“When you’re trying to play for a trophy, it’s not easy to defend leads,” four-time PGA Tour winner Leishman said of Woodland.
Leishman feels that hitting 77 per cent of fairways this week has given him the belief he can have a hot round and chase down Woodland.
“It’s been years since I’ve driven it this well and, hopefully, I can drive it like that tomorrow,” Leishman said.
“I will need to because Gary is playing great golf, then Rory is just behind him and, as big hitters, they are likely to make a lot of birdies.”
But it will be a tall order with winds forecast to die down significantly at Kapalua, meaning Woodland might take advantage of calmer conditions.
Australian Jason Day’s hopes faded with a two-over 75 that dropped him to four under and well out of contention.
The former world No.1 had a disastrous front nine on Saturday, soured by three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par-4 sixth.
The Tournament of Champions is an elite $US6.5 million ($A9.3 million) event for winners on the PGA Tour from the previous year and features no 36-hole cut.