The Spaniard burst out of the blocks with a birdie at the first and an eagle at the par five second to race to 12 under par for the week.
And while South African rookie Michael - who has led after all three rounds so far - managed a birdie of his own at the second, he could only par the next and dropped a shot at the 448 yard third.
That left him two shots off the pace, with compatriot Dawie Van Der Walt a further shot back.
Charl Schwartzel was one under through four to be eight under - four off the pace - while Robert Rock and Thomas Aiken both made some promising headway early on to reach seven under.
|1||MARTIN BENAVIDES, Pablo||ESP||18||-11|