All four overnight leaders found scoring difficult as the Omega Dubai Desert Classic headed towards an exciting finish at Emirates Golf Club.
Race to Dubai champion Lee Westwood and Spanish duo Alvaro Quiros and Miguel Angel Jiménez were all one over for the front nine, slipping to ten under, while Thongchai Jaidee – also part of the quartet 11 under overnight – dropped two shots on his way out.
The chasing pack were unable to take advantage, however, with Rory McIlroy and Edoardo Molinari unable to advance from eight under through their first 12 holes.
Veteran Tom Watson had joined Henrik Stenson and Gregory Bourdy in the clubhouse lead at six under.
Westwood established a clear lead when he birdied the third and fourth, but the World Number Four double bogeyed the next and dropped another shot on the ninth to fall back into the leading pack.
Former paratrooper Jaidee looked to be drifting out of contention when he shipped three bogeys in five holes, but he recovered somewhat with a birdie at the ninth.
|T2||JIMÉNEZ, Miguel Angel||ESP||18||-11|