Tom Watson, displaying the form and flair that made him a six-time Player of the Year, shot a six-under-par 66 Saturday despite gusty winds and moved into the third round lead of the $500,000 Hawaiian Open at Honolulu.
"That's the best I've played in a long time," Watson said. "It could have been a little better, but I was really pleased with the strong finish into the wind."
Playing into the teeth of freshening trade winds, Watson made a pair of six-footers for a birdie-birdie finish that put him at 203 for three rounds over the 6,978-yard Waialae Country Club course.
Looking ahead to today's final round of the chase for a $90,000 first prize, Watson said: "If I can continue to hit the ball like I did today, and make a few putts, I've got a good chance to win the tournament."
If he does, it would mark the end to a puzzling, nonwinning streak that goes back to the summer of 1984.
His closest challenger is Paul Azinger, the tall, slender young man who had a chance to win last week at San Diego but self-destructed with a late double-bogey.
"Here I am again," he said after a 69 put him one shot back at 204. "Things are coming around. We'll just have to see what happens tomorrow."
It was another two shots back to Corey Pavin and three others at 206.
Pavin had a wildly erratic round of 72 that included six birdies, six bogeys and six pars. He was tied with Craig Stadler, Jodie Mudd and Bob Tway, a winner last week in San Diego. Mudd had a 66, Stadler a 67 and Tway a 68.
Mac O'Grady, the second-round leader, struggled to a 74 and was at 207. As is his custom, O'Grady refused to talk to newsmen.
Starting the day four shots back, Watson was one under par through the first eight holes, then made his move with a spectacular eagle-3 on the 513-yard ninth hole, which was playing directly downwind.
His drive was measured at 338 yards, and he needed only an 8-iron for his second shot, which he placed 12 feet from the cup.
South African Gary Player struggled in the wind and wound up with a one-over-par 73, but he held onto the lead in the 47th annual $250,000 PGA Seniors Championship at PGA National Champions course in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Player's 54-hole total of 209 left him three shots ahead of Lee Elder, who made up five strokes on the last five holes while shooting a 69.