Scottie Scheffler, who appeared to be heading with a commanding lead, hit a wayward tee shot on the 18th hole, his ball flying into the bushes to the left.
The newly crowned world number 1 finally found his ball, which ended up deep in the foliage, and was forced to take a drop just to play his next shot.
He was able to produce an extraordinary shot to get his ball close to the green, but the penalty meant he finished with a bogey on the last hole, ultimately carding a par 71 to one under on Saturday.
That means the American golfer has a three-stroke advantage over second-placed Cameron Smith, who moved up the standings with his own excellent round of 68.
With just 18 holes remaining at Augusta National, Scheffler has a chance to win his first major tournament and continue his excellent form.
The imperious look
Scheffler is the sexiest man in golf.
Last month he was named world No. 1 after a magnificent streak in which he won three PGA Tour events in five starts.
So, entering the 2022 Masters, a tournament at which he achieved his best result last year when he finished tied for 18th, the 25-year-old was one of the favorites in the gallery.
And he rewarded those beliefs, earning himself a five-shot lead after 36 holes.
Despite the Masters lead, the pressure never seemed to deter Scheffler, as he laughed and joked with caddy Ted Scott during his third round on Saturday.
He breathed calm as he quickly added to his eight under score on the night, jumped to 10 under on the third hole.
A brief shot on the fourth hole dropped him back to nine under, but a searing streak of golf – in which he showed all his qualities – helped him reassert his lead as he dropped to under 11.
All the while, Smith was making his move. The Aussie started the day with two pennies but improved significantly after a disappointing Friday as he showed glimpses of his best on the famous course.
The 28-year-old finished six under – carding the only score below 70 on the day – to move into second with Scheffler still on the course, and launched into the hunt for the green jacket.
However, just when it looked like everything was lining up for a big lead from Scheffler heading into the final day, a few small cracks started to show in his usually unwavering game.
Consecutive bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes reduced his lead to just three, with two holes remaining.
He recovered in magnificent fashion just a hole later, claiming a vital birdie on the penultimate hole to extend his lead to four again.
Just when it seemed like he was running away with that thought, his temperamental driving on the final hole made things all the more enticing.
While he could have lost his mind and been pissed off, he remained calm and collected to save a bogey and maintain his lead.
With just 18 holes left to decide the winner of golf’s most prestigious major, Scheffler remains in pole position to win his first Masters title.