Daniel Berger and Michael Weaver couldn't have asked for much more.
The pair entered Sunday's third round of the Players Amateur at Berkeley Hall Club in Bluffton in the final threesome.
Berger, a rising sophomore at Florida State, started the day three shots off the lead of Australian Daniel Nisbet. Weaver, a rising senior at California was another shot back, tied for third with first-round leader Bobby Wyatt of Alabama.
But well before the round was finished, it was clear that what had been a prime opportunity for a shot at the lead headed into the tournament's final day was not going to materialize.
As Berger and Weaver struggled to 5-over-par 77s, Nisbet and Wyatt moved to 11 and 10 under, respectively, widening the gap between second place and the rest of the field to seven strokes.
"Just hitting it in the fairway was tough today," said Berger, now 10 strokes off the lead in a tie for 13th. "I still have a chance to make up some ground. It's a tough course. What doesn't kill you, you have a chance to learn from."
Several three-putts contributed to Berger's struggles, a trend he said is unusual.
"I've played so many competitive rounds lately and I've putted the ball so well," Berger said. "I was bound to have one bad round."
Berger struggled on the front nine, carding a triple-bogey 6 on the par-3 fifth and a double-bogey on the par-5 ninth. Conversely, Weaver's round came apart on the back nine, highlighted by a triple-bogey on the par-4 13th.
"I didn't hit the ball well today," Weaver said. "Not a whole lot went right out there today. It's a tough course. Even when I had a birdie chance, I didn't hit it well."
Even with the wide gulf between the top two on the leaderboard and the rest of the field, Weaver refused to concede that the final round had been reduced to a showdown between Nisbet and Wyatt.
"They're going to have to play great," Weaver said of a potential winner. "It's going to take a lot of birdies, but anything's possible. The guys at the top could make a couple bogeys or double-bogeys and anything can happen."
Berger was more resigned to the odds that the winner would come from the top two.
"Either one of them would make a good winner," Berger said. "They're both good players and they're playing well."