Justin Rose and Keegan Bradley immediately set about trimming Bubba Watson’s lead as the final round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship began.
Watson began the day three shots clear of Rose and Bradley, and all three picked up shots at the first.
Watson and Rose birdied, while US PGA Champion Bradley holed a lengthy eagle putt.
Ryder Cup star Watson then did brilliantly to rescue par with a 20 foot par putt following a wayward drive.
At 18 under he was two clear of Bradley, with Rose still three behind after a par at the second.
South African Charl Schwartzel and England’s Luke Donald were both moving in the right direction – both playing their first six holes in three under to move to 12 under for the week.
World Number Two Donald, looking to snatch the Number One spot back from Rory McIlroy at the first attempt, played a magnificent approach to the sixth from a fairway bunker to six feet.
Paul Casey, playing his first event since dislocating his shoulder snowboarding on Christmas Eve, holed-in-one at the 15th, but even though there was a car behind the tee they quickly discovered, bizarrely, it was a prize for an ace on the 13th.
Casey was able to laugh about it because he had agreed to give caddie Craig Connelly half of the cash value.
"I've never been so relieved," joked Casey, who finished with a 73 for level par.
Watson, all over the show off the tee so far, holed from even further away at the third - but it was for bogey after he had gone from the trees into the water.
Bradley bogeyed the hole as well and Rose's 30 foot birdie at the short fourth brought him only one behind.
After a quite start Sweden’s Peter Hanson birdied the fifth, and that was enough to leave him alone in fourth and only three behind – having started the day five back.