Tour ironman Dana Quigley kept pace with Kite with a 70 of his own. Quigley, who has played 262 straight events in which he was eligible, shares second place with Morris Hatalsky (67) and Hale Irwin (69) at 9-under-par 135.
Irwin, who is battling Craig Stadler in the season-long Charles Schwab Cup race for a $1 million, tax-free annuity, holds a comfortable lead over the Walrus. Stadler stumbled to a 1-over 73 and fell to a share of eighth place at 3-under-par 141.
Kite struggled for a while during his round, but a late rally put him back in the lead. On the front nine, Kite tripped to a lone bogey at the par-3 fourth at Sonoma Golf Club.
The 54-year-old climbed back to even-par for his round with a birdie at the 10th. Kite, who finished third in this event last year, tripped to another bogey at the 12th.
Kite came back to birdie the par-3 14th to get back to 8 under overall. He finally moved into red figures for his round with a birdie at the par-5 16th. Kite closed with a birdie at the last hole to regain the lead by himself at minus-10.
'I did not drive the ball well at all. Today was a totally different story,' Kite said. 'I started out by driving the ball in the rough on the first hole, put my second shot in the bunker and had to work hard for par there and didn't make a birdie on the front nine.
'I just was a little off. This morning when I was warming up, I couldn't quite get the feel. I wasn't hitting the ball nearly as solidly as I had been. Even last night, I hit some balls after the round yesterday, and I was just in a groove and kind of stacking them one on top of another, and today nothing was right on.'
Irwin, who won this event in 1998, flew into the lead early on as he birdied each of the first three holes to jump to minus-9. He remained atop the leaderboard until a bogey at the par-4 10th. He grabbed his share of second place with a birdie at the 17th.
'I had such a good start birdieing the first three holes and didn't make another birdie until the 17th hole, so there was a lot of highs starting, a lot of lows in the middle,' said Irwin. 'It got exasperating there at the end, because I really struggled once more getting my tee shots in the fairway, which is so important on this golf course. My iron game was a little bit better today, but my driving still is very questionable.'
Quigley had a tough front nine, as he bogeyed the third and seventh before bouncing back with a birdie at the eighth. After a bogey on 11, he birdied the next. Quigley claimed a share of second place as he birdied three of the final four holes.
Hatalsky was solid throughout his round. He birdied the second, then finished his first nine with birdies at the sixth, eighth and ninth. Around the turn, Hatalsky birdied the 14th and parred the other eight holes to end at minus-9.
Jose Maria Canizares stands alone in fifth place at 6-under-par 138. Peter Jacobsen is one shot further back at minus-5, while Jerry Pate stands at 4-under-par 140.