American Chan Kim and Australian Brad Kennedy have their work cut out if they are to win the Mitsui Sumitomo Visa Taiheiyo Masters for their first title of the season.
Reigning JGTO money list winner Kim and Kennedy both signed for a one-under-par 69 to finish in a share of ninth on four-under 206.
Both Kim and Kennedy will enter Sunday's final round at the Taiheiyo Club's Gotemba Course six strokes behind leader Taiga Semikawa, who fired a 66 to open up a three-shot lead at the 54-hole mark.
Rikuya Hoshino and Ryo Ishikawa both shot 66 and 69 respectively to sit joint second on seven-under while overnight leader Hiroshi Iwata could only muster a 72 to slip into tied for fourth at a further shot back alongside Yuto Katsumata (65), Naoto Nakanishi (69) and Ryo Katsumata (70).
Starting the day five shots off the pace, Kim could not make any headway in the penultimate stage after mixing three birdies with two bogeys.
But one should never rule Kim out, not even at six shots back.
At the 2019 Japan Open, Kim staged a remarkable comeback by overturning an eight-shot deficit to claim a one-shot win.
"There are 18 holes to go, as long as you don't give up, anything is possible," said Kim, who finished joint second at Heiwa PGM Championship a fortnight ago.
Kim will be motivated to play well in the final stretch of the season and will aim to finish the season with at least a title.
Since 2019, Kim has not failed to claim at least one victory each season. In 2021, he captured the Vantelin Tokai Classic and Dunlop Phoenix Tournament, which he will be defending next week.
Although playing in only a handful of tournaments this year due to his commitment abroad, Kim has produced a string of consistent results and missed only one cut in eight outings.
Kim finished no worse than a top-six in his last three starts.
South Africa's Jbe Kruger sparkled with a 65 to move up to joint 13th with American Todd Baek of the United States.
South Korean duo Sanghee Lee and Younghan Song were tied for 17th on two-under.
Semikawa is seeking an astonishing third title in just four starts, and his first as a professional. The 21-year-old sensation won the Panasonic Open and Japan Open as an amateur.
"I'm taking nothing for granted despite the three-stroke lead," said Semikawa, who was tied 28th in his first pro start at the Mynavi ABC Championship last week.
"It's not going to be easy. To win tomorrow, I think I have to play better golf than I did today.
"It's simple. I'm just going to go out there to shoot as many birdies as possible."
Leading third-round scores:
(Japan unless stated)
200 - Taiga Semikawa 67-67-66;
203 - Rikuya Hoshino 72-65-66, Ryo Ishikawa 68-66-69;
204 - Yuto Katsumata 69-70-65, Naoto Nakanishi 64-71-69, Hiroshi Iwata 66-66-72;
205 - Riki Kawamoto 76-66-63;
206 - Aguri Iwasaki 70-70-66, Chan Kim (US) 67-70-69, Ryosuke Kinoshita 68-69-69, Brad Kennedy (Aus) 71-66-69.