Hideki Matsuyama sits primed to become a national hero after an incredible back-nine blitz at the Masters set up a commanding four-shot lead with a round to play.
Matsuyama sent Japanese golf fans into raptures with a blistering seven-under 65 to take command of the tournament at 11 under, aiming to become the first men's major championship winner from his country.
The 29-year-old, who first made his debut at the Masters as a teenager a decade ago, gained six shots in seven holes after a thunderstorm delay to turn the tournament on its head.
Having collected the low amateur medal in 2011, Matsuyama is primed to return to the Butler Cabin on Sunday to collect a green jacket.
But he will have to hold off a raft of chasers with four players – Australian Marc Leishman (70), Americans Xander Schauffele (68) and Will Zalatoris (71) and England's Justin Rose (72) – in a share of second at seven under.
"This is a new experience for me being a leader going into the final round in a major," Matsuyama said through an interpreter.
Indeed, he is the first player from Japan to hold the Master lead at the end of a round.
"I guess all I can do is relax and prepare well and do my best," Matsuyama, whose last PGA Tour win came in 2017, said.
"I did play well today. And my game plan was carried out, and hopefully tomorrow I can continue good form."
"This is a new experience for me being a leader going into the final round in a major. I guess all I can do is relax and prepare well and do my best." – Hideki Matsuyama
After the delay of more than an hour, Matsuyama took advantage of the softer conditions to birdie holes 11, 12, 16 and 17 to go with a brilliant eagle at the par-5 15th.
Leishman will attempt to be just the second Australian to win the Masters, after he was paired with Adam Scott for the drought-breaking 2013 final round.
"The pressure is on Hideki tomorrow," Leishman told AAP.
"He has a lot of people chasing him who want to put that jacket on as much as he does.
"And I have the chance to apply more pressure to him if I can get off to a good start."
Overnight leader Rose, seeking his first Masters victory after a pair of runner-up finishes, was still in front by two shots moments after play resumed but was out of sync on the resumption and did well to hang in.
"All the guys chasing at seven under par are all capable of that little run that Hideki has had, so it's all up for grabs tomorrow," Rose said.
Zalatoris is attempting to become the first Masters rookie to win since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 while Schauffele was a runner-up to Tiger Woods at Augusta in 2019 and has three runner-ups on the PGA Tour this season without winning.
"I'm a huge fan of putting myself in position with nine holes to go and learning from each and every mistake and also the things I did well in those moments," Schauffele said.
"So I'm looking forward to tomorrow."
Canadian Corey Conners (68) used an 8-iron to make a hole-in-one at the par-3 6th hole to be sixth at six under.
- Ben Everill, Australian Associated Press