Tiger Woods closed in on a record-equalling 82nd PGA Tour victory Sunday with a third-round 66 to move to 16-under par at the weather-delayed Zozo Championship while Rory McIlroy leapt into the top 10 after a 63.
The US Masters champion extended his two-shot overnight lead to a three-stroke cushion over home favourite Hideki Matsuyama who had a five-under 65 to be 13-under.
A shot further back was US Open Champion Gary Woodland who carded a 68 before the leaders dashed into the clubhouse for a rapid lunch.
They were due to head straight back out to tee off their final round at 2pm (0500 GMT) which will finish on Monday morning because of the 4:50pm sunset.
McIlroy had a horrible two-over 72 on Thursday but followed up his Saturday 65 with a superb 63, equalling the low round of the week, containing six birdies and an eagle at the 18th.
At 10-under par the FedEx Cup champion went into the afternoon’s fourth round in solo seventh place, six shots adrift of the leader.
Woods will tie Sam Snead’s all-time record of 82 PGA Tour victories with a win at in the inaugural $9.75 million event Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club.
He started sloppily with a three-putt at the first but quickly regained momentum with a pinpoint eight-iron to six feet at the short third.
With the sellout crowds allowed back in after almost 10 inches of rain fell on the course during Friday’s suspension of play, Japan’s number one Matsuyama was giving them plenty to cheer.
Matsuyama started four behind Woods but a birdie on the last in a second 65 of the week took him into second on his own, three behind the leader.
Woods, whose 64 on Thursday was his lowest season-opening round of his long career, was holding a 36-hole lead on his own for the first time since the 2013 WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational.
The 15-time major champion had won on 38 of the 49 previous occasions he held the lead going into the third round and showed no signs of wanting to relinquish it.
When Woods knocked his sixth birdie of the round at the 13th he was five clear but he dropped a second shot at the par-five 14th when he failed to get up and down.
In-form Woodland, who tied third in at the CJ Cup in South Korea last week, stayed in touch with an up and down two-under round of 68 with four birdies and two bogeys.
Tied fourth on 11-under par entering the final round were the American duo Xander Schauffele (65), Billy Horschel (64) and Canada’s Corey Conners (66), with world number two McIlroy lurking a further stroke behind.