HONOLULU, Hawaii - Matt Every felt a lot more comfortable with a golf club in his hand instead of a microphone.
Starting to feel nerves from his rare position atop the leaderboard, Every steadied himself after a sluggish start and birdied his final hole Saturday for a 2-under 68, leaving him tied with 47-year-old Jeff Maggert going into the final day of the Sony Open.
Maggert, who missed part of last season after surgery on his right shoulder, eagled the easy par-5 ninth for the second straight day and shot a 64 for his first good chance at winning in nearly six years.
They were at 12-under 198, although 16 players were within four shots of the lead.
The toughest time Every has had all week came after his second round Friday.
He was honest to a fault while discussing his PGA Tour suspension as a rookie his rookie season in 2010 after he was arrested on a misdemeanour marijuana possession charge during the John Deere Classic. He looked uncomfortable when the topic was raised in a Golf Channel interview moments later.
Every attributed a tough night of sleep to his two-shot lead, figuring he had more to lose than to gain. But when he arrived at the course, he felt as calm as the conditions.
"I actually enjoyed myself a lot today, which was kind of weird," Every said. "Because yesterday and going into today ... I was kind of dreading today. But then when I got out here, I was like, 'I'm so glad I get to play golf today.'
"If you play well ... not that interviews are bad," he said. "This is my first time really being in contention. I don't know what those guys go through every week. Now I'm starting to realize it."
Charles Howell III, who has had five finishes in the top five at the Sony Open, gave himself another opportunity with a 66. He was in the group at 10-under 200. Pebble Beach winner D.A. Points shot 64 and was another shot back, while the large group at 8-under 202 included Steve Stricker, trying to join Ernie Els in 203 as the only players to sweep the Hawaii events.
Calgary's Stephen Ames and David Hearn of Brantford, Ont., were in an 11-way tied for eighth, four shots off the lead. Ames shot 67 Saturday to move up nine spots, while Hearn, who was tied for second heading into the third round, shot 70 to fall two strokes off the pace.
Graham DeLaet of Weyburn, Sask., the first-round leader, shot 68 to move into a tie for 19th, five shots behind the leaders.
But the big surprise was Maggert.
Not only is he closing in on the 50-and-older Champions Tour, he finally took care of a bone spur in his right shoulder that has been bothering him the last few years. Maggert had surgery in June and had a medical exemption for part of this year, but he went to Q-school for a backup plan.
It worked. He made it through Q-school for a little more security, and then built more momentum with a solid day. He had to scramble for par on the opening hole, and the rest of the day felt easy.
Every, meanwhile, hasn't had the easiest time this week, and it was alarming to hear him say with his first chance to win on the PGA Tour, "I'm just ready to get it over with."
It could have slipped away from him Saturday.
He went long of the green at No. 2 to make bogey, and his round was close to getting away from him. His approach on the third hole flirted with the water down the left side and barely was safe. He chipped to 8 feet and made par.
"If I miss that — 2 over after three — and then the next thing you know, I could have made another bogey and then it's just kind of survival mode," he said.
But he steadied himself quickly, helped by a 30-foot birdie putt on the eighth and a two-putt birdie on the ninth that allowed him to regain control.
What he couldn't control was Maggert, who is starting to feel healthy again. Along with the shoulder, Maggert says he hasn't felt right since he broke a rib early in 2007 during a snow skiing trip — but the injury didn't happen on the slopes.
"It was afterwards, coming out of the grocery store," he said. "True story. Tripped on the ice and fell and broke my rib on the curb."
The timing couldn't have been worse. Maggert had won the St. Jude Classic in 2006 and was on the ski trip before going to Maui for the Tournament of Champions. He tried to play through the pain, and thinks it affected the technique in his swing.
"I feel like it's a lot better than it has been," he said.
The leaderboard is so bunched that Duffy Waldorf was walking up to the ninth green and saw that he was tied for 40th. He also noticed that he was only five shots out of the lead.
"It's such a good bunching of players, it was like, 'Well, if I go make some more birdies, I might get back in it.' And that's what happened on the back side," he said.
Waldorf shot 31 on the back for a 66, and goes into the final day only three shots behind.
DIVOTS: Erik Compton made a 10-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole for a 70. Turns out he needed that to make the 54-hole cut on the number. The day before, he went birdie-eagle to make the 36-hole cut. ... Webb Simpson has not finished out of the top 10 since the Tour Championship. He goes into the final round in a tie for 61st. ... The par-5 ninth played to an average score of 4.15. It has yielded 38 eagles this week.