Lorenzo Gagli edged ahead during the early stages of the Bankia Madrid Masters final round, but there were a host of players poised to challenge.
The 25 year old Italian has been enjoying an excellent season on The European Tour, with four top-five finishes taking him to 49th on The Race to Dubai.
And that good form continued as he birdied the second from 25 feet and picked up another shot at the fourth to reach 14 under at El Encin Golf Hotel.
He was joined by Argentine veteran Cesar Monasterio, who had three birdies in his first six holes including a 20 footer on the third.
Ryder Cup star Francesco Molinari drained a ten foot birdie putt at the fifth for his second gain of the day to be only one behind, with overnight leader Lee Slattery and home favourite Eduardo De La Riva sharing fourth on 12 under.
Lurking ominously was defending champion and World Number One Luke Donald, who holed from eight feet for birdie at the sixth to be 11 under for the week through seven holes.