Luke Donald reached a point, close to four years ago, when he realized his swing was out of sorts.
He wasn't driving the ball well, missed a lot of greens and decided something needed to change if he was to play at a high level. Donald needed something solid to lean on.
The Englishman devoted extra work to his short game. And that, maybe more than anything, could be the reason for his recent success.
After fumbling away his lead early Saturday during the third round of the Heritage, Donald held his tournament together with clutch up-and-downs en route to a 70 and 11-under total. He leads by a shot over defending champion Jim Furyk entering today's final round at Harbour Town Golf Links.
Donald made double bogey on the par-5 second after pulling his approach out of bounds but responded with a pair of par saves from off the green the next two holes.
"Those up-and-downs and keeping some momentum going where I wasn't going completely backwards was big for me," Donald said.
With a win today, Donald would move to the No. 1 spot in the Official World Golf Ranking. On the other side of the globe, Lee Westwood appears poised to win the Indonesian Masters and would become the world's No. 1 if Donald falters. The countrymen have shared encouraging messages on Twitter during the week.
Furyk, who won his first Heritage title last year on his 12th try, three-putted No. 18 to make bogey and miss out on a share of the lead. Two shots back of Donald are Scott Verplank and Brendon de Jonge, who matched the low round of the day with a 66.
Garrett Willis started the day a shot off Donald's pace but faded to five shots back after a third-round 74. Chad Campbell is also 6 under after a 73.
Donald, who has finished in the top three the past two years here, said he would not sit on his one-shot lead. If conditions continue as they did late Saturday, with the wind affecting the closing holes, birdies will become tougher to find.
Should his round go sour again early, Donald will have multiple instances to draw from to bounce back. He entered the week 162nd on the PGA Tour in greens in regulation. But he is first on the tour in putting and scoring, and third in scrambling.
"I had to become very proficient around the greens and put a lot of work into it," Donald said. "And it's been paying off."
Donald and Furyk, today's final pairing, have battled in recent competitions. Furyk squeezed past Donald to win last year's Tour Championship by a shot. Donald defeated Furyk in singles matches to help the Europeans win the 2010 Ryder Cup.
Furyk's 2010 victory here was one of three wins propelling him to PGA Tour Player of the Year honors. The 40-year-old Pennsylvania native on Saturday made birdie on No. 15 to grab the lead before slipping late.
After finally breaking through last year in one of his biggest events, Furyk is trying to join Payne Stewart, Davis Love III and Boo Weekley as those who have won here in consecutive years.
Furyk hasn't had the start to the season he might have wanted, with two top-10s in nine events and a pair of missed cuts. But the former U.S. Open champion said he is comfortable at Harbour Town.
"When I come here, I know that if I'm playing well, it suits my style," Furyk said. "I've been in contention a bunch before and that's the goal. You try to put yourself in contention and give yourself a chance to win on Sunday."