Lee Westwood may have been left alone to try to bring England a third successive victory at the Accenture Match Play Championship in Tucson, but he was rising to the challenge today.
In the third round for the first time in 12 attempts, Westwood established a three-up lead on American Nick Watney as they started for home.
Watney knocked out Tiger Woods yesterday and had beaten Westwood for the past two years, but he could not match the third seed's two opening birdies and the gap became three when he bogeyed the ninth after spraying his approach wide of the green.
Like Luke Donald when he took the title last year, Westwood had yet to be behind in any game and the extra incentive for him was that, with Donald losing in the first round to Ernie Els, victory on Sunday would give the Worksop 38-year-old the world number one spot back.
Second seed Rory McIlroy had the same target - for the 22-year-old it would be the first time he has ever led the rankings - and he was one up after six on 48-year-old Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez.
The gap could and probably should have been ever larger, though. McIlroy missed from inside five feet on the first and fifth and also failed with an eight-foot putt at the third.
He was gifted the second when Ryder Cup team-mate Jimenez ran up a six on the long second, but the young Northern Irishman had a bogey of his own on the next before his opponent dropped another shot at the next after duffing a chip.
The third round also saw an all-Scottish clash between Martin Laird and Paul Lawrie and it was advantage Laird after the first nine holes.
The US-based player won the first two holes like Westwood and Lawrie, having birdied the fifth to cut his deficit, lost the long eighth to a remarkable birdie. Laird was in trouble off the tee and his second shot was on the edge of the desert scrub, but he then struck a six-iron to five feet while Lawrie chipped over the green.
Last year's runner-up Martin Kaymer was in deep trouble at three down with six to play to Matt Kuchar, but Swede Peter Hanson won four of the first six holes against another American, Brandt Snedeker.