Padraig Harrington kept a charging Tiger Woods at bay on Saturday and will take a three shot lead into their final round showdown at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.
Harrington shot a five birdie, two bogey 67 in the rain at Firestone Country Club in Ohio to lead the tournament at ten under par after six time winner Woods fired a five under 65 to move to seven under and set up a compelling last pairing for Sunday's final round.
American Jerry Kelly lies a further two shots back on five under in a tie for third.
Ten players, including all three 2009 Major winners - Angel Cabrera, Lucas Glover and Stewart Cink - Spain's Miguel Angel Jiménez, England's Oliver Wilson and American Kenny Perry are tied for seventh on four under.
They are joined by Australian Robert Allenby, Americans Woody Austin and Zach Johnson and Canada's Mike Weir, all of whom shot 69s.
Woods began the day five shots behind Harrington as he started his third round and was still four shots in arrears as he turned for home.
Then Woods stepped up a gear on the back nine, four birdies in his last six holes moving into a tie for the lead with Harrington and South African Tim Clark at seven under par as the American posted a five under 65.
US PGA Championship winner Harrington had spent most of his third round sparring with Clark in the final group out on the 7,400 yard South Course as rain fell throughout the afternoon.
“I'm obviously happy with my day's work,” said Harrington. “As I said, the key is to keep breaking 70. That makes sure everybody else if they're going to win this tournament, they're going to have to play well.
“I realize I'm going to have a difficult day, that's for sure. You know, this golf course has obviously been very good for Tiger. He's played well on it in the past and done well, so I don't think anything is going to be easy tomorrow. Probably at best it's going to be a long, hard day and a battle - that's what I'm going to prepare myself for.”
The Dubliner began the day at seven under, one shot clear of the South African, and quickly stretched his lead to two shots after pitching from 110 yards to inside ten feet, from where he sank the birdie putt and moved to eight under.
Clark, though, birdied the second and third to draw level with the Irishman at eight under.
Jiménez and Perry shot 66s to finish their third rounds at four under, which was looking a very good score as bogeys started to litter the cards of the players above him on the leaderboard.
Harrington and Clark both bogeyed the par four fourth to fall to seven under before Clark birdied the par three seventh to move into the outright lead at eight under.
The South African fell back into a share of the lead with a birdie at the ninth as they both made the turn at seven under par.
Woods had begun steadily from two under par with four straight pars before a birdie at the par three fifth was followed by bogey, birdie at the eighth and ninth.
Then Woods came alive on the closing stretch, birdies at the 13th and 15th moving the six time Firestone winner to five under, ominously close to the lead.
Even more ominous was his iron shot from 91 yards to inside a foot at the 16th, a smiling Woods strolling up to tap in for another birdie that took him to six under, a shot off the lead.
Kelly joined him there with his third birdie in four holes, at the 11th, but Woods was in the zone. His momentum carried him to a closing birdie at the 18th and he walked off the final green to a huge roar from the rain-soaked gallery with a score of 65 at seven under par, tied with Clark and Harrington in the lead.
"I do feel comfortable here," Woods said after his round. "As of right now, I'm tied for the lead but more than likely I'll probably be one or two back going into tomorrow.
"This golf course, you've got to be very patient."
Woods' time at the top of the leaderboard was, as he predicted, short-lived as Harrington showed his mettle with back-to-back birdies, rolling in a 30 foot putt at the 12th and another of 21 feet at the 13th to pull two strokes clear.
Clark missed a seven foot par putt at the 14th to drop to six under as Harrington parred the hole and the Irishman showed he was not the sort to be intimidated by Woods when he birdied the par three fourth to move to ten under par, three shots clear.
Harrington had a wobble at the par five 16th, which he bogeyed, but bounced straight back with a birdie at the par four 17th.
Clark had also bogeyed 16, and ended the day three under after he was handed a two shot penalty for an incident at the same hole, leaving the way clear for a Harrington-Woods showdown on Sunday.