Canadian Nick Taylor will have a chance to become a wire-to-wire winner of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, but to prevail will require him to fend off, among others, Phil Mickelson, a five-time winner of the event, and a revitalised Jason Day.

Taylor shot a three-under par 69 at Spyglass Hill on Saturday to complete 54 holes in 17-under par 198. Mickelson, the defending champion, is one shot back following a round of five-under par 67 at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Jason Day, with a two-under 70 at Spyglass Hill, is alone in third, two off the lead.

Day, who has long battled a debilitating back injury that kept him out of the recent Presidents Cup and Australian Open, seems to finally be feeling the benefits of balloon therapy.

It’s been roughly a year since Day first discussed the unusual method that helps keep his rib cage in place, strengthens his core and loosens his back. That means a year of 30-minute sessions blowing into balloons at the gym while others are pumping iron.

“Mind you, you feel self-conscious,” Day told, noting that “no one else is blowing up balloons.”

“I’m really good at farm animals and … swords and stuff like that,” he added. “If you need a kids’ party, I can do it for you.”

It was a tough start for Taylor, who bogeyed two of his first four holes, but he rebounded strongly with a flawless back nine that included two birdies and an eagle.

“I haven’t been in this spot for awhile, but again, easier said than done, just play my game, keep my head down,” Taylor said. “If I end up playing with Phil, I’m sure I won’t be the crowd favourite, so just got to keep my head down, do my thing and keep playing, because I’ve been playing well.”

Taylor, 31, will be playing with Mickelson on Sunday as he seeks his second PGA Tour victory. His first came in the Sanderson Farms Championship in 2014.

Mickelson, whose five victories in the AT&T are equalled only by Tiger Woods, employed his short-game wizardry to give himself a chance at winning. He holed a 47-foot bunker shot for birdie at 13, a pitch from nearly 30 yards for birdie at 14, and got up and down for birdie from a difficult position right of the green at 18.