Graeme McDowell opened up a two-shot lead over Gareth Maybin as the final round of the Andalucia Valderrama Masters got underway, with Damien McGrane moving into a tie for second.
McDowell - who double bogeyed the 18th hole on Saturday to ensure he shared the lead with his fellow Northern Irishman - dropped a shot at the third to slip back to five under for the tournament.
But Maybin endured an even more difficult start, bogeying his first three holes as the wind made low scoring increasingly tricky in Sotogrande.
That left him on three under and McGrane had moved to the same score courtesy of a birdie at the third.
Miguel Ángel Jiménez also made a two at the first par three to get back to two under after an opening bogey.
Sergio Garcia had slipped back to one over as a result of two early bogeys, leaving Thomas Björn and Raphaël Jacquelin as the only other men under par.
However, veteran Spaniard José María Olazábal was making excellent progress, with birdies at the first, second, 11th and 12th helping him to two under for his round and three over for the tournament with three holes remaining.
Race to Dubai leader Martin Kaymer was unable to make up ground on the leaders as he attempted to claim the World Number One ranking for the first time in his career.
Kaymer needs to win or share second place with no more than one other player if he, rather than the absent Lee Westwood, is to succeed Tiger Woods when the American's 281-week reign ends on Monday.
But the German was two over for the day and five over for the tournament after eight holes of his final round.