Masters champion Sergio Garcia continued his remarkable turnaround in fortunes to climb into contention for a second Players Championship title and third win of the season.
Making his first start since claiming a maiden major title at Augusta National, Garcia had been four over par for his first six holes at Sawgrass after four-putting the fifth, the same hole he six-putted in the third round last year.
The 37-year-old was still four over with three holes to play on Thursday, but he followed a birdie on the 16th by recording a hole-in-one on the famous 'island green' 17th to salvage an opening 73.
A second round of 71 still left Garcia nine shots off the halfway lead and seemingly not in the frame to join Tiger Woods as the only players to win the Masters and Players Championship in the same year.
However, with blustery winds making scoring difficult on Saturday, the 2008 champion surged up the leaderboard with a third round of 67 to lie on minus five.
Si Woo Kim of Korea set the clubhouse lead on seven under follwoing a 68 on Saturday, though ahead of him were JB Holmes, Louis Oosthuizen and Kyle Stanley, who were amongst the latest starters.
Further down the leaderboard, Rory McIlroy was still struggling to rediscover his top form in his first event since the Masters, after which he got married and signed a multi-million pound equipment deal with TaylorMade.
McIlroy, who will have an MRI scan on Monday after suffering a recurrence of the back problem which ruled him out for seven weeks earlier this season, made the ideal start with a birdie on the first.
But the four-time major winner then bogeyed the fifth. And although he did birdie the ninth for the third day running, birdies on the 16th and 17th were cancelled out by bogeys on the 14th and 18th.
The resulting 71 left McIlroy on one under par overall, with world number one Dustin Johnson two over after a 74 which included five dropped shots in the last six holes.
After his round, Garcia said: "It was very windy - not very consistent with the wind either. It was gusting quite a bit so it was difficult to pick the clubs but I managed to play very nicely, hit a lot of fairways, hit a lot of greens for the conditions and made some really good putts.
"It was important to make the cut this week after all the highs from the Masters and how overwhelming everything was at the beginning of the week - I felt like I was playing with a little bit of the handbrake on.
"Today I was able to free up a little bit and hit some really good shots so hopefully I will be able to do more of the same tomorrow."
Graeme McDowell will start his final round on one over following a disappointing 74 on Saturday. John Rahm blew up with a ten over 82 on his third round and he will start on Sunday on six over.