It took a while for Matt Kuchar to disentangle himself from a suddenly-crowded Sony Open leaderboard on Sunday, but when he finally put the hammer down, he did so emphatically and cruised to his second victory of the still-very-young 2018-19 PGA Tour season.
Just like that, his lead was three shots, making for a pleasant walk up the par-5 18th. "To shoot 7 under back-to-back is unexpected, but awfully excited", said Kuchar.
"I found some good stuff between seasons ... and then things really heated up in Mexico", he said.
"I anticipate needing another good round tomorrow", he said.
Kuchar became the first multiple victor on the PGA Tour this season, having ended a drought of more than four years when he captured the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico last November.
Chez Reavie (66) - who had five birdies through nine holes - fell into a two-way tie for third place (14 under) with Keith Mitchell (63).
Thomas had four bogeys, three of which were sandwiched in between one more birdie and an eagle to close out the round.
CoA emails Hardik Pandya, KL Rahul informing of suspensions
Even Pandya had earlier mentioned he had got carried away by the "nature of the show" while apologising for his comments on social media .
The only other time Kuchar won twice in the same season was in 2013, when he won the Match Play Championship in Arizona in February and the Memorial in early June.
Super-consistent Marc Leishman is on track for another big US PGA Tour payday but the Sony Open title appears nearly out of reach going into the final round.
Clearly, the 40-year-old is in a better spot than when he had gone more than three years without winning and was left off the Ryder Cup team for the first time in 10 years. However, his bunker shot got the ideal bounce off the green and one more off the flagstick for an impressive ending.
Kuchar started to get his round going with a birdie on No. 9.
"I want to see how great this year can be", Kuchar said. "I just couldn't keep up with him". He carded one under overall after rounds of 73 and a much-improved 66 in his first event of 2019. Marc Leishman, Hudson Swafford, Chez Reavie and Corey Conners were T-3 at 17 under.
DIVOTS: Gary Woodland, who didn't shoot worse than 68 last week and still had to settle for runner-up at Kapalua, was among 10 players who missed the 54-hole cut because more than 78 players made it to the weekend.
Putnam's birdie at the third and a series of solid pars proved enough to take him into the lead, which he maintained at the turn when he matched Kuchar's birdie at the long ninth.