Luke Donald had his sights set on becoming the third European winner of the Honda Classic in six years when the final round began at the Mirasol course in Florida's Palm Beach Gardens last night.
After Jesper Parnevik's victory in 2001 and Padraig Harrington's play-off success a year ago, Donald was due to resume in a share of the lead with the American Billy Mayfair.
While others were running up bogeys galore - the halfway leader David Toms had seven of them - the 28-year-old from High Wycombe calmly went about his business in putting together a third-round 68.
And it took an eagle putt of more than 30 feet on the 17th green for Mayfair, without a US Tour title since 1998, to join him on the nine-under-par mark of 207.
Donald was playing with his Ryder Cup team-mate Lee Westwood, who was another to suffer badly. They were joint seventh when they teed off but while Donald climbed to top spot Westwood also had seven bogeys - five of them in the first eight holes - and with a 77 dropped all the way to 35th place.
Harrington, tied for third after 36 holes, saw his hopes of a successful defence nosedive when he double-bogeyed the seventh and eighth. A 74 leaves him five strokes to make up, but last year he was seven adrift and fired a brilliant closing 63.
The little-known Jeff Gove, a graduate from last season's Nationwide Tour, was one shot behind in third place, while the Swede Daniel Chopra and Australian Geoff Ogilvy shared fourth spot on seven under.Reuse content