Charles Howell III devoted his off-season to putting and it continued to pay off Saturday at the Sony Open.
Howell birdied his last two holes for a five-under-par 65, giving him a one-shot lead over Luke Donald going into the final round at Honolulu.
Still in the mix with the biggest smile at Waialae was 16-year-old Tadd Fujikawa, the pint-sized sophomore from Honolulu who delivered more surprises and allowed everyone to dream big. A day after becoming the youngest player in 50 years to make the cut on the PGA Tour, he shot another 66 and was tied for eighth, six shots behind.
"I don't have anything to lose right now," Fujikawa said.
Big things were expected of Howell when he was rookie of the year in 2001 and won the Michelob Championship a year later.
But the victories dried up, and a technically sound game has been held back by putting.
He took only 25 putts in the third round, ranks second in the tournament in putting and was at 13-under 197.
"I don't think I've ever been second in the field in putting after three rounds," Howell said. "We spent a lot of time on it, and I'm glad it's showing here."
Donald had a chance to join him with a long eagle putt on the last hole, but it stayed left of the cup. He shot a 69 and will be paired with Howell in the final group today.
Paul Goydos was in control until missing a six-foot birdie putt on the 12th that would have given him a two-shot lead.
Goydos took consecutive bogeys down the stretch and wound up with a 70 to finish at 11-under 199.
Steve Stricker (67) and Ted Purdy (66) were another shot back, followed by Jim Furyk (69) and Paul Azinger (68).
Stricker might have been the only player at Waialae not surprised by Fujikawa. They played together in a pro-am Monday, and as the three-time PGA Tour winner kept writing down scores, he noticed he was getting beat. The kid shot 65 and beat him by four.
"He played great -- all 5-foot-1 of him," Stricker said.
Said Goydos: "This is one of the great accomplishments. You'd expect him to say, 'I accomplished something,' [after making the cut] and lay down. And obviously, he didn't. It's still windy. It's difficult. And he's eight under the last two days. That's better than I did."
Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson grabbed a share of the nine-hole lead in the Champions Skins Game at Wailea, Hawaii, teaming for two skins to match defending champions Raymond Floyd and Dana Quigley at $60,000.
The duos of Arnold Palmer-Loren Roberts and Gary Player-Jay Haas were shut out in the four-team, alternate-shot event. With no one able to win the last five skins, the par-four 10th will be worth six skins and $220,000 today.
With only $120,000 claimed on the front nine, there is still $650,000 left.
"Jack and Tom take a lot of time off but when they come back, it looks like they've been playing forever," Quigley said. "They don't lose a step, it seems like."