Scotland's Martin Laird has five shots to make up over the final round if he is to reel in leader Steve Stricker at the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.
Laird carded a third-round 67 to join Jonathan Byrd and Webb Simpson in a share of second place on 14 under.
Stricker, who had a five-shot advantage after a 10-under-par second-round 63, saw his lead cut to a single shot as he came through 14 at level par.
But four birdies over the final four holes saw him stretch away once more.
American duo Bryce Molder and Kevin Na are eight shots off the pace on 11 under after rounds of 67 and 71 respectively in the 2012 season opener on the Plantation Course at Kapalua.
Laird, 28, who was born in Glasgow and now resides in Scottsdale, Arizona, admitted it would be hard to make up the ground on Stricker.
He said: "Someone like Stricker, who has won a bunch and is obviously very experienced with the way he plays...it's going to be tough to catch him."
Stricker, who has 11 PGA Tour career victories, won the John Deere Classic and the Memorial Tournament last year.
"It was pretty stagnant out there for me today," he said.
"I was not doing anything very special there for the first 14 holes and then just hit a couple of good shots at 15, the par five, and stole a birdie at 16 after spinning it off the green and chipping it in."