Defending champion Jimmy Walker hits the front at Sony Open

Jimmy Walker is in the box seat to defend his Sony Open crown heading into the final round in Hawaii.

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Defending champion Jimmy Walker produced a putting masterclass in the penultimate round of the Sony Open as he carded an eight-under-par 62 for a two-stroke lead on Saturday.

Walker stormed up the leaderboard by holing 10 birdies throughout his third round at Waialae Country Club.

The American, who is on track to become the first player since South Africa's Ernie Els in 2004 to defend the Sony Open, is 16 under through 54 holes in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Compatriot and joint-overnight leader Matt Kuchar is two shots off the pace following his third-round 68.

American duo Brian Harman and Troy Merritt are a stroke further back following their respective rounds of 64 and 67.

Walker teed off with a four-shot deficit behind Justin Thomas, Kuchar and Webb Simpson, and the three-time PGA Tour winner started slowly, bogeying his second hole of the day.

That proved to spark a flurry of birdies on the front nine, with Walker putting in four before the turn, including back-to-back at the eighth and ninth holes.

He added another at the 10th to make it three successive birdies and it got better with a further five birdies from his remaining seven holes.

Kuchar relinquished his lead after four birdies and two bogeys saw him drop down the standings.

Harman and Merritt are hot on Kuchar's tail.

A bogey-free round that included six birdies elevated Harman up to third, while Merritt only holed two bogeys.

South African Tim Clark (68) and Thomas (70) are in a share of fifth place at 12 under.

American Max Homa is five shots behind leader Walker following his seven-under-par 63.

Meanwhile, Jason Kokrak (64), Shawn Stefani (65), Harris English (65), K.J. Choi (65), Gary Woodland (65), Scott Piercy (66), Camilo Villegas (67), Daniel Summerhays (67), Russell Knox (69), Kim Hyung-sung (62) and Simpson (72) are in a logjam for eighth at 10 under.

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