Patrick Reed matched the best score of the day, a five-under-par 67, to earn a one-shot lead after the third round at the Wells Fargo Championship in Wilmington, North Carolina on Saturday.
Reed handled another windy day as well as anyone at Eagle Point, surging to the front with birdies at his final two holes to post an eight-under 208 total ahead of Spaniard Jon Rahm (69) and Swede Alex Noren (69).
Italian halfway leader Francesco Molinari (72) is in a group of four players two shots behind Reed, while world number one Dustin Johnson is equal 14th, four shots back after matching Reed's 67.
Johnson is seeking to win his fourth consecutive start, something that has not been done on the PGA Tour since Tiger Woods in 2007-08.
He barely made the halfway cut but fought into contention with four birdies on his back nine on Saturday, capping off his day by coaxing in a 10-footer at his final hole, the par-four ninth.
Reed played patiently, picking off six birdies without taking too many risks.
“I didn't get ahead of myself today,” said the 26-year-old, who played conservatively for the middle of the greens.
“Seems kind of like what I've been doing all week, just let the putter go to work and it's been doing pretty well.”
Rahm, meanwhile, continued his sizzling season to move into contention for a follow-up win, after his breakthrough victory at Torrey Pines in January.
“My putter was really hot on the back nine. I was able to make a lot of clutch putts from difficult situations,” said the 22-year-old.
Noren has not won on the PGA Tour but triumphed four times on the European Tour last year and arrived in Wilmington ranked 12th in the world, the third highest-ranked player in the field.
“I would have taken 69 in the beginning of this day,” he said. "I managed to pull a good round and I’m happy with that.”
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Pritha Sarkar/Peter Rutherford)