Seamus Power admits he now feels "comfortable" in contention as he seeks his second PGA Tour win in the RSM Classic and a dream Masters invitation.
he West Waterford star (34) produced another brilliant display of iron play and short game magic at Sea Island Resort's Seaside Course, carding a three-under 67 to go into the final round tied for second with Colombia's Sebastián Muñoz, just three shots behind Talor Gooch on 13-under par.
Gooch shot a 67 to lead on 16 under in his quest for a maiden PGA Tour win, but after winning the Barbasol Championship in July after gradually clawing his way up the pecking order on the PGA Tour, Power is feeling good about his game heading into Sunday's pressure-packed finale.
The winner will pick up 500 FedExCup points, a cheque for $1.29 million and an invitation to tee it up at Augusta National next April.
"The goal is to get a win in the 500-point events and what comes with that," said Power, who could jump from 89th in the world into the top 50 with a win and add the Master, The Open and the US Open to his start in next year's PGA Championship.
"Golf, you're always trying to improve. Some things I was trying to continue to improve here and there, and it's just fun to try and put yourself in contention to see how you react."
He started his day by three-putting the second from 50 feet but birdied the seventh and ninth from five feet, knocked in a 10 footer at the 13th for another birdie to move into second place, then chipped in for eagle at the 15th to briefly take the lead.
He would hand that shot back when he went from fairway to greenside sand at the 16th, and while Gooch birdied two of his last four holes to open a three-shot lead, Power is feeling good.
"It was nice, a huge bonus obviously on a day like today to pick up the two shots," Power said of the chip-in for eagle. "Nice little momentum there."
He's been building momentum all season, surging from outside the top 125 in the FedEx Cup standings to fully exempt as his game clicked, his confidence grew, and he clinched his breakthrough win after a six-hole playoff in the Barbasol Championship in Kentucky.
"I was able to put myself in good spots on a pretty regular basis in the summer, and you just get a little bit more comfortable," Power said. "You get comfortable at 15th, all of a sudden you're comfortable at 10th and fifth, and that makes a massive difference.
"Even today being in I think the third last group, you're much more comfortable starting out and hopefully take it into tomorrow."
With windy conditions making for testing scoring at Sea Island Resort, Power's short game has been key as he's scrambled for par 10 times out of 11.
"Yeah, it's one part of the game I've always really enjoyed practising," he said. "I love chipping; I could spend hours chipping all different shots. It's fun to me, and I've always been pretty good at it.
"I'm not really sure why or anything; it's not as if I got a lot of short game lessons or anything. It just seemed to make sense to me and kind of fun to figure shots out and see what you can do."
Victory in the final full-field event of the year would be the perfect way for him to celebrate Thanksgiving next week with his Irish relatives in Las Vegas.
"I have a cousin in Las Vegas, and I'd say him and his wife are the host and hostess of the year, so I'd say they'll probably have something planned for next week, so looking forward to it," he said.
Like Power earlier this year, Gooch (30) has been knocking on the door for his maiden win after racking up four top-11 finishes in his last four events.
But he's looking forward to getting out in the final group with Power and Muñoz at 1615 Irish time.
"I mean, if you don't enjoy pressure, you're in the wrong sport," Gooch said. "I've been fortunate since I've been five years old to have a group of buddies that we all grew up playing sports together.
"So when we're together, we're always competing at something, we're always doing something to put some pressure and try to break each other basically. So it's just what I've always known is just try to enjoy the pressure and try to prove people wrong."