Augusta (Georgia):Kenny Perry of the United States and Angel Cabrera of Argentina shared the lead in the Masters after a third round on Saturday that all but scuppered Tiger Woods' hopes of a fifth green jacket and 15th major title.
Perry, who at 48 would be the oldest-ever winner of a major should he triumph on Sunday, signed for a two-under 70, while the 39-year-old Cabrera, the 2007 US Open champion, carded a 69.
They were both on 11-under 205 for the tournament, two strokes clear of American Chad Campbell, who had a 72. Jim Furyk of the United States was in fourth place at eight-under after a 68, one ahead of compatriot Steve Stricker, who also had a 68.
Three players were grouped on six under - Shingo Katayama of Japan (70), Rory Sabbatini of South Africa (70) and Todd Hamilton of the United States (72).
Tim Clark of South Africa was solo a further stroke back and, included in a nine-strong chasing pack at four-under, were Woods and World No.2 Phil Mickelson, who will go out together on Sunday.
Perry said that a win on Sunday evening would be the pinnacle of a professional career that dates back to 1987. "Forty-eight is just a number for me," he said. "I still hit it OK and get it out far enough."
Cabrera described his round as "spectacular." "I haven't been in this position before here so I am going to try and make the most of it tomorrow."
Nicknamed back home in Cordoba as El Pato (The Duck) due to his waddling gait, Cabrera also has a chance of becoming the first player in Masters history to shoot four rounds in the 60s following his 69, 68 and 69 in the first three days.
Best friends Perry and Campbell were the overnight leaders at nine under and they exchanged the lead several times throughout the day before Campbell double-bogeyed the par-three 16th after taking two to get out of a bunker.
Cabrera, who had made steady progress through the day, then joined Perry at 11-under with a birdie at the 17th and both men closed with pars to share the lead, comforted by the knowledge that only once in the last 18 years has the winner of the Masters not come from the final pairing on Sunday.
Woods set out on his third round knowing that he badly needed to score something in the 60s to give himself at least an outside chance of closing in on Jack Nicklaus' records of six Masters titles and 18 majors.
But a three-putt, double-bogey six at the first immediately made that an even tougher proposition.
He managed birdies at the fourth and ninth, the latter with a monster 30-footer to get back to level par at the turn, but gave one back with another three putt at the 11th.
Woods grabbed birdies at the par-five 13th and 15th and added another with his best approach shot of the day at the par-four 17th.
But that was as good as it got and he was left needing the leaders to come back to him by shedding shots over the back nine. That did not happen
"Today was as hard as I have ever fought to get a score out of it. I got off to a terrible start but fought back and got myself somewhat back into it. I just wasn't comfortable for some reason so hopefully tomorrow I will have it," Woods said.
If Woods still held out some hope of reeling in the leaders on Sunday, the same could not be said for Padraig Harrington.
The 37-year-old Dubliner took a quadruple-bogey nine at the second to shatter his bid to become just the third man in history after Woods and Ben Hogan to win three majors in a row.
"Everybody else seems more disappointed than I am. I don't feel like it's an opportunity missed. It's more important the number of majors I win in my career," said Harrington.
Mickelson had four birdies and three bogeys en route to his 71 and he did not rule out a third green jacket for himself on Sunday.