Bubba Watson finally turned some average Memorial Tournament form into a one-stroke lead as Phil Mickelson insisted he'd "done nothing wrong" as he put up with reports that he's involved in a federal investigation into insider trading.
While all this was going on, Rory McIlroy recovered from following an opening 63 with a 78 to birdie the last two holes for a 69 that left him trailing Watson by just six shots with a round to go.
The Ulsterman is tied for 14th, but while is Sunday morning deficit is smaller than it was before winning at the BMW PGA at Wentworth last week (he trailed Thomas Bjorn by seven that day), he had just three players ahead of him. In Ohio today, he has 13.
Watson was in superb form for most of the day, making five birdies in a six hole stretch in an outward 32 before stumbling on the back nine with a bogey at the last for 37 giving the field a sniff.
After carding a 69, the Masters champion is just a shot clear of fellow, unheralded left-hander Scott Langley (67) on 12 under with Hideki Matsuyama two back after a 69.
Mickelson, who has yet to register a top 10 finish on the PGA Tour this season, is 10 shots behind and tied 47th after a 72.
But when quizzed over the FBI and inside trading, he said. "Honestly, I've done nothing wrong. I'm not going to walk around any other way."
McIlroy looked to be heading for another disappointing day when he bogeyed the second and third. But he would drop just one more shot, at the sixth following a poor wedge.
Birdies from 15 feet at the fifth and eight feet at the eighth saw him turn in just one over before he stormed back in four under 32 with an eagle three at the 11th and birdies from 12 feet and three feet at the last two holes.
His birdie at the last was particularly satisfying as he got up and down from a fairway bunker from 159 yards.
"It's funny, I've been practicing my fairway bunker play the last couple of weeks because it's been awful all year. I've been joking that I'm the worst fairway bunker player on Tour," McIlroy said. "So to produce a shot like that on 18 was very nice. I had 159. Playing uphill into the wind. Just tried to throw a seven‑iron up there somewhere up on the green and ended up pretty good.
"I didn't get off to the greatest of starts. Couple over throughfour holes. One‑over through nine isn't really anything too special out there. And played well on the back nine. Had that eagle on 11 and then finished the round off really well. Finished with three 3s, which I think a few guys out there will take this afternoon. So really happy with the finish and not quite in the mix or in contention. But I'm pretty close. And another good score tomorrow, see how it goes."
McIlroy confessed that he was determined to make up for Friday's 78 with a decent round and the eagle at the 11th turned another ordinary day around.
"It did. Had a great drive up 11, really left myself a 6‑iron in there. It was nice to take advantage of that. And a little disappointed not to birdie 14 or 15. But to birdie the last two sort of made up for that.
"It was important (to bounce back from the 78). I didn't want to shoot two bad rounds in a row. So I was happy to shoot something in the 60s today and try and do something a little better tomorrow again."
As for his left knee, he sad: "The knee feels okay. It's not 100percent, but it's better than it was on Thursday. So it's a good positive sign."