Toms only dropped one shot on his way to a 6-under-par 66, the day's best round in demanding, breezy conditions on the Quail Hollow course.
"With the wind blowing, this course is tough," the 2001 PGA champion said after posting a 54-hole total of 11-under 205. "Fortunately, I played a great round,"
Fred Couples, who was one stroke from the lead at the start of the day, also carded a 74 to all but shoot himself out of
Toms picked up three birdies on the front nine, but it was an eagle at the par-5 10th, where he pitched in from 35 feet, that vaulted him clear of the field. That's where he stayed as he more than made up for a bogey at the 11th with birdies at the 15th and 16th.
Triplett played more than two hours ahead of the leaders and posted a 67 to give the field something to chase.
"I was a little more aggressive with my putting and iron shots today," said the 41-year-old Triplett, whose lone PGA Tour win came at the Nissan Open three years ago. "I hit a lot of good shots, made a few putts and missed a few, too. I played the par-5s well."
Charles Howell III moved into second place late in the round before bogeying the 16th and 17th to end the day six shots behind. He had played 51 holes without dropping a shot.