It was Hideki Matsuyama who made the biggest moves, shot an excellent 65 and climbed to the top of the rankings with eleven strokes, four shots ahead of Justin Rose, Xander Schauffele, Will Zalatoris and Marc Leishman.
In a bogey-free round that included five birdies and an eagle, Matsuyama took an eagle birdie birdie between the 15th and 17th to extend his lead.
Matsuyama wanted to be the first Japanese to win a major and was composed at all stages of his game. But it was his ability with his irons that gave him an advantage as he carefully dissected the course.
“I played well today,” he told reporters. “My game plan has been carried out and I hope that I can continue my good form tomorrow.”
After the bad weather break, the greens proved to be much slower, allowing players to hole more consistently.
Matsuyama, whose best result in the 2015 Masters came in fifth, took advantage and showed a remarkable consistent performance.
The number 25 in the world barely had any scatter shots and took an important eagle putt on the 15th hole to take the lead from Rose, second twice in Augusta.
England’s Rose, who had led all weekend before being led by Matsuyama, looked stable and confident as other players scrambled to join him at the top.
It opened with two birdies on Saturday, but its positive start was soon canceled by bogies on the fourth and fifth.
A birdie on the 12th and a bogey on the 16th let him finish the day when he started 7-under, despite having plenty of company on the leaderboard this time around.
Masters debutant Zalatoris continued to impress despite his lack of experience at Augusta National, and the 24-year-old American hit four birdies to maintain hopes of an unlikely win.
Also on the hunt are the Australian Leishman, who carded 70 on the third day, and the American Shauffele, who finished with a 68 on an eagle on the 15th.
2015 Masters Champion Jordan Spieth, who had his best results again last week after his first PGA Tour win since 2017, scoring some incredible chips and glorious putts to enter the competition.
After a double bogey on the seventh, the three-time major winner hit a high chip on the eighth hole from the trees to land near the pin and threw himself in on the 10th to get him back into the competition.