Sergio Garcia and Adam Scott were threatening to turn the Honda Classic into their own private duel as Rickie Fowler's quest for perfection quickly came to an end at PGA National.
Fowler took a one-shot lead into day three thanks to two flawless rounds of 66, but saw that quickly wiped out after pulling his second shot on the par-five third into the water.
The resulting bogey was the world number five's first of the week and was soon followed by another on the sixth, where he found a fairway bunker off the tee and was unable to reach the green in regulation.
Fowler's struggles were compounded by some brilliant scoring from Garcia and Scott in the penultimate group, the good friends a combined nine under par for the front nine to surge clear of the field.
Garcia briefly opened up a two-shot lead with a hat-trick of birdies from the third, where he missed from five feet for eagle, and also birdied the eighth to move to 10 under par.
But former world number one Scott was not about to let the Spaniard out of his sights and followed his own birdie at the third with four more in succession from the sixth to join Garcia in the lead and reach the turn in just 30 shots.
Fowler had fallen four shots adrift alongside veteran Vijay Singh, the 53-year-old having carded four birdies in the first six holes before picking up another shot on the 12th.