Rory McIlroy will need a minor miracle if he's to win the HSBC Champions 2016 crown after finishing the third round seven shots off the pace being set by 17-under-par leader Hideki Matsuyama on Saturday.
Matsuyama retained his lead after rounding Sheshan Golf Course in 68 on Day 3, taking a three-shot cushion over current runner-up Russell Knox heading into Sunday's decisive showdown.
McIlroy was unable to match Friday's standards and dropped off the leaderboard pace with a third-round score of 70, leaving him with a mountain to climb in Sunday's fourth and final round.
American Daniel Berger heads into Day 4 on 13-under, three shots behind Matsuyama, while compatriot Bill Haas and Italian Francesco Molinari sit joint fourth on 12-under par, still in with a chance of challenging for the title.
Read on for a recap of Saturday's Day 3 action in Shanghai, China, complete with a look at the leaderboard's top 10 and highlights of the third-round drama.
|HSBC Champions 2016: Saturday Leaderboard|
|Position||Nat||Player||To Par||Round 3|
Visit the official European Tour website for a look at the leaderboard in full.
There was little stopping Matsuyama from tightening his grip on the HSBC Champions lead on Saturday after he contributed his steadiest display of the tournament thus far at just the right juncture in the contest.
An outing consisting of four birdies and 14 pars spread evenly across both halves of Sheshan Golf Course saw the Japanese upstart move within one step of the Shanghai crown, although PGA Tour Media noted there's still a way to go:
The absence of any bogeys on Matsuyama's card for the first time this weekend leaves the 24-year-old in fine shape moving into Sunday's closing stage, and a birdie on the 18th was the ideal manner to cap off his Day 3.
McIlroy, on the other hand, was forced into damage-limitation mode for portions of his third-round performance, which included a terrific birdie save after shooting into the crowd on the eighth, per the European Tour:
That was one on five birdies the Northern Irishman collected on Saturday, but a tally of three bogeys—all of which fell within a stretch of five holes on the back nine—meant he was only good enough to finish on 70 for the day.
Although not as bad as his first-round 71, McIlroy's Saturday score of two-under isn't likely to see him contend for the title on Sunday, although he came so close to salvaging a last-gasp lifeline on the 18th also:
Ireland's Shane Lowry had arguably the most impressive performance of Day 3 and rose a surging 18 places after finishing in 65, currently tied for joint eighth alongside McIlroy.
Matt Kuchar also stands level with that duo heading into the closing round after finishing Day 3 four under-par, but this highlight of his Saturday effort came in the shape of a hole in one on the 17th:
Fellow American Berger also enjoyed an effective day's work, recording eight birdies and three bogeys en route to his jump up to third with a score of 67, while Rickie Fowler's 68 moved him into joint sixth.
One day remains at the HSBC Champions 2016 in Shanghai, and while McIlroy may be close to out of the running, plenty of contenders remain ready to challenge for Matsuyama's lead come Day 4.