American Chan Kim stave off a spirited charge from Aguri Iwasaki to cling to a one-shot lead heading into the final round of the Casio World Open with former champion Yuta Ikeda in a tied for third.
A thrilling Sunday finale is on the cards at Kochi Kuroshio Country Club with five players within five strokes of Kim, including South Korean pair Dong-kyu Jang and Young-han Song.
Led by two overnight, Kim faced a strong pursuit from his playing partner Iwasaki throughout the proceedings, but the seven-time JGTO winner broke clear thanks to a hat-trick of birdies on the last three holes to post a bogey-free eight-under-par 64 for a 22-under total of 194.
Talented 24-year-old rookie, Iwasaki was brilliant all day long as he birdied seven of his last 10 holes for a flawless 63 to continue breathing down Kim's neck.
The in-form Iwasaki will be eager to stamp his mark with a breakthrough victory before the season ends. He has impressed with nine top-10 finishes including twice runner-up at the Panasonic Open and Heiwa PGM Championship.
Kim is relishing the final day battle with Aguri as he also takes aim at the tournament record of 24-under set by Kiyoshi Murota and Katsumune Imai in 2001 and 2003 respectively.
"Iwasaki is a very good player. He managed to shoot a nine-under despite being under pressure, that's no easy task at all," said Kim.
"I'm looking forward to another great battle with him tomorrow.
"It would be a great honour to break the record, it's going to be very special thing if I can accomplish that.
"I'll do my best to aim for that tomorrow."
Ikeda kept his hopes of reclaiming the title he last won in 2016 with a sizzling 64 after trading nine birdies with a lone bogey to join Satoshi Kodaira, who also had 64, in third.
Jang shot the day's joint low score of 63 to soar up the leaderboard and join compatriot Song (66) in a tied for fifth and five strokes shy of Kim on 17-under.
Philippines' Justin De Los Santos also raised his game on moving day, shooting a 66 to sit in a four-way tie for 10th on 14-under.
Currently 33rd on the money list, De Los Santos needs a strong finish if he's to make the top-30 cut for next week's Golf Nippon Series JT Cup.
Leading third round scores:
(Japan unless stated)
194 - Chan Kim (US) 64-66-64;
195 - Aguri Iwasaki 66-66-63;
198 - Yuta Ikeda 68-66-64, Satoshi Kodaira 67-67-64;
199 - Dong-kyu Jang (Kor) 67-69-63, Young-han Song (Kor) 67-66-66;
200 - Mikumu Horikawa 69-67-64,
201 - Sang-hyun Park (Kor) 68-67-66, Keita Nakajima 67-68-66;
202 - Kaito Sato (am) 67-71-64, Shugo Imahira 70-66-66, Justin De Los Santos (Phi) 67-69-66, Rikuya Hoshino 67-68-67.