Jason Day is backing his near-flawless frontrunning record to deliver him the Stonehaven Cup after taking command of the 102nd Australian Open golf championship in Sydney.
The former world number one carved out a 2-under-par 69 in tough going at The Australian Golf Club on Saturday to snare a one-stroke lead at 9-under heading into the final round.
Third-round leader and playing partner Lucas Herbert remains Day's closest challenger after holding his nerve to go shot for shot with the 2015 US PGA champion for much of the third round.
Herbert carded an even-par 71 to retain his place in the final group on championship Sunday.
Four of the top five on the leader board earn their living on the cut-throat and lucrative American tour, setting the stage for an exciting final-round shootout, though the classy Day is very much in the box seat.
Third round leaderboard
- Jason Day — 10-under (69)
- Lucas Herbert — 9-under (71)
- Jonas Blixt — 7-under (66)
- Matt Jones — 7-under (68)
- Cameron Smith — 6-under (69)
- Rhein Gibson — 5-under (68)
- Anthony Quayle — 5-under (72)
- Mark Brown — 4-under (67)
- Cameron Davis — 4-under (74)
- Matthew Guyatt — 4-under (69)
The Queenslander has converted five of his past six 54-hole leads in America — and in some of the biggest events in the world, including the 2015 PGA Championship and 2016 Players' Championship.
"You have to learn to love the lead," he said.
"A lot of guys through some of their careers have learnt to win from behind because there's less pressure being out in front, but this is a great position to be in.
"I'd much rather be in this position than one stroke back."
Swede Jonas Blixt fired an impressive 66 on moving day to share third at 7-under with 2015 champion and local club member Matt Jones (68).
Cameron Smith, runner-up in a playoff last year to Jordan Spieth at Royal Sydney, signed for a 69 to be five behind Day at 5-under.
"I know that I've got a bunch of players behind me that are going to go out there and play their hardest tomorrow and who potentially could win," Day said.
"So I've got to be sharp tomorrow. I've got to stay focused and make sure that I keep pushing."
Starting the third round one stroke behind Herbert, Day made 13 straight pars before ending the frustration with a near-chip-in eagle at the par-5 14th to claim the outright lead for the first time.
He backed that up with another birdie on the par-3 15th before dropping a shot on number 17 to briefly slip back into a tie with Herbert.
But a two-putt birdie on the last, after finding the green for two on the par-5 finishing hole, left Day with sole possession of the lead.
Seemingly undeterred in the match play-like conditions, Herbert enjoyed a two-stroke advantage over Day for more than two hours before taking an ugly double bogey on the par-3 10th.
The 21-year-old struck his downwind tee shot long and left and, despite a frantic search, no one was able to find his ball.
Spieth never managed to get going in his quest to make inroads on the leaders.
The 2014 and 2016 winner and world number two carded a 1-under 70 to nudge to 2-under for the tournament and needing a super low final round to have any hope of retaining the Stonehaven Cup.