Lee Slattery overcame a jittery start to restore his two shot advantage going into the closing stretch of the Bankia Madrid Masters.
Starting the day looking not only for a first European Tour title but also to secure his playing status for next year, Slattery bogeyed two of his first five holes at El Encin Golf Hotel.
That allowed Italian Lorenzo Gagli and Argentinean veteran Cesar Monasterio to lead at the turn, but three birdies in four holes from the 11th saw England’s Slattery regain the initiative.
The 25 year old Gagli 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 former St Omer winner Monasterio, who had three birdies in his first six holes including a 20 footer on the third.
But Gagli and Monasterio dropped shots on the 13th and 14th respectively to be 14 under, two behind Slattery with four to play.
Eduardo De La Riva was fourth on 13 under, but the Spaniard had only two holes remaining and probably required birdies at both to trouble the leader.
Slattery picked up another shot at the 15th courtesy of a marvellous approach to within a foot, and that left the 33 year old three ahead with three to play.