Pavin is in search of his 15th win on the PGA TOUR, but his first since the 1996 Colonial. The 1995 U.S. Open winner has not even shared a 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour since the Players Championship the same year he won his only major at Shinnecock Hills.
On Thursday, Pavin established a new PGA TOUR record for lowest nine-hole score with his 26 on the front nine. Then on Saturday after he completed his second round, he matched the tour record for lowest opening 36-hole score with his 125.
Standing in Pavin's way is hometown favorite Jerry Kelly, who refers to this tournament as his fifth major. Kelly posted a 6-under 64 on Saturday and is alone in second place at 15-under-par 195.
Frank Lickliter fired a 6-under 64 and is tied for third place with D.J. Trahan, who was one stroke worse than Lickliter in round three. The pair is knotted at minus-14.
Pavin drained a 22-foot birdie putt at the third hole to move to 16 under par and take a five-shot lead. That did not last long as Pavin failed to save par from 6 feet at the fourth, then bogeyed five to fall to minus-14.
Pavin struggled off the tee on Saturday and missed the fairway at the eighth. He knocked his approach to 14 feet and converted the birdie putt. He made it two in a row at nine when his 7-footer found the bottom of the cup.
Kelly birdied the first, fifth and seventh holes, then rolled in a 5-footer at the eighth to get within one of the lead. Once Pavin posted his back-to-back birdies, the lead was three.
At the 10th, Pavin drove into the left rough and his second hit a tree and only traveled a few yards. He could not save par, but he ran home a 9-footer for birdie at the 11th, the same hole Kelly birdied in the group ahead.
Pavin sank a 20-foot birdie putt at the 13th to extend his margin to three. Kelly answered at 16 with a 10-footer for birdie to close the gap to two.
Neither player was able to pick up any strokes on 17 or the par-5 closing hole. That gives Pavin a two-shot lead over Kelly, who will be in search of his third PGA TOUR title and first since a multi-win year in 2002.
Former PGA champion Shaun Micheel (65), Billy Andrade (66) and Nathan Green (67) are tied for fifth place at minus-12.
Joey Sindelar (67) and two-time former champion Jeff Sluman (68) are knotted in eighth place at 11-under-par 199. Chris Couch (65) and Jason Bohn (71) share 10th at minus-10.