The Japanese 22-year-old struck a six-under 64 on Saturday to storm 35 places up the leaderboard, and into a share of the lead with American trio David Toms (65), Chad Campbell (68) and Chris Stroud (69) on seven-under overall.
The leaderboard in Texas is congested, with six players tied for fifth on six under, and another seven a shot further back on five under.
Among those a shot off the pace are Australia’s Marc Leishman, South Africa’s Tim Clark and Americans Kevin Chappell, Chris Kirk, Brian Harman and Jimmy Walker.
Chappell flirted with a round of 59, after going eight under through his opening 11 holes, but finished with a seven-under 63 to catapult 55 spots up the leaderboard and into contention.
World number one Adam Scott is tied for 11th, after a four-under 66 helped him loom ominously ahead of Sunday’s finale.
Scott is out to protect the top ranking he climbed to on Monday, with Sweden’s Henrik Stenson – competing in the European Tour’s BMW PGA Championship – a challenger to the mantle.
Scott’s fellow Australian John Senden is also at five under, alongside England’s Brian Davis, Sweden’s Freddie Jacobson, and Americans Brendon Todd, Jason Dufner and Bo Van Pelt.
The Australian contingent is strong in the top-20, with Robert Allenby and Aaron Baddeley among a group of seven tied for 18th.
Allenby and Baddeley are at four under, level with Americans Jordan Spieth, Nicholas Thompson, Ryan Palmer, William McGirt and New Zealand’s Tim Wilkinson.
Defending champion at Colonial, Boo Weekley made the cut but is not in contention to win again, after a four-over 74 leaves him tied for 72nd.
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