Sweden's Ludvig Aberg fired an eagle and seven birdies in a nine-under par 61 on Saturday to maintain a one-shot lead over Eric Cole heading into the final day of the PGA Tour RSM Classic.
Cole, at 35 battling Aberg for Rookie of the Year honors and like the Swede in search of a first US tour title, also posted a 61 on the Seaside Course at St. Simons Island, Georgia, where the American roared back from an early bogey with eight birdies and an eagle.
On a low-scoring day, Canadian Mackenzie Hughes grabbed an eagle and eight birdies in a 10-under 60 that left him alone in third, two shots off the lead.
Although birdies abounded, Aberg said it required some patience to get through the demanding first few holes on the way to a 20-under par total of 192.
"The first couple, three, four holes are not easy. So I stayed patient through those and made a few nice par putts," said Aberg, who made his first birdie at the fifth. "Stayed patient and luckily it paid off today."
After two more front-nine birdies, Aberg picked up six strokes in a five-hole stretch with birdies at 13 and 14 followed by his eagle at the 15th and two more birdies at 16 and 17.
"You get a lot of wedges on the back nine, you get basically all of them, and then 15's a reachable par five," said the 24-year-old, who helped Europe beat the United States for the Ryder Cup in Rome in September.
"I felt like I was striking the ball well. I was hitting the fairways ... I felt I was striking the ball well and kind of took advantage of a little bit easier conditions today."
Aberg won the European Masters this year but has failed to capitalize when in contention in a few other DP World Tour and PGA Tour events.
Cole has worked his way onto the PGA Tour via minor league tours, racking up more than 50 wins on lesser circuits.
The 35-year-old American said that experience will stand him in good stead as he goes for the biggest win of his career on Sunday.
"It definitely doesn't hurt," Cole said. "It's obviously a little different stage out there and everything's kind of amped up a little bit."
Masters invitations and a move into the top 50 in the world rankings will also be in play Sunday, and Hughes is aiming for a strong finish that could see him play his way into the PGA Tour's elite signature events next season.
"Just finishing the year on a strong note, it's nice for momentum going into next year," said Hughes, whose two PGA Tour titles include the 2016 RSM Classic."I feel as though I've gotten myself into a couple of those elevated events -- signature events, sorry -- and if I continue to play like I am, I like my chances to play my way into more of them."