Home favourite Sergio Garcia turned in 33 to move into a share of the lead on day three of the Andalucía Masters at Club de Golf Valderrama.
Overnight leader Richie Ramsay, who finished third at last week’s Castelló Masters in Valencia, initially extended his lead on a glorious afternoon in Sotogrande, birdieing the third to reach six under.
However, a dropped shot at the seventh stunted the 28 year old Scot’s previously serene progress, moments after Garcia - last week’s winner - had moved to four under with his third birdie of the day at the eighth.
When Ramsay found trouble off the tee at nine and carded a second bogey, he and Garcia were level at the top of the leaderboard, with another Spaniard, Miguel Ángel Jiménez, a shot further back in third and Sweden’s Christian Nilsson at two under.
The popular Jiménez, four adrift overnight, holed a delightful pitch for eagle at the par five fourth, where his fellow countryman made birdie.
Garcia then three-putted the fifth to slip back to two under, but a stunning iron to the par three sixth, which almost yielded a hole-in-one, allowed him to quickly recover from the setback and it was not long before he was leading the way.
Nilsson, whose only European Tour win to date came at the co-sanctioned SAINT-OMER OPEN presented by Neuflize OBC in 2009, birdied four holes in a row from the fourth and, after a bogey at eight, then picked up further shots at the ninth and 13th to surge into contention.
He did drop a second shot at the short 15th, but remained in a strong position as he approached the end of his penultimate round.
England’s Steve Webster was in the clubhouse at level par following a sparkling 66 containing six birdies.
France’s Grégory Havret, Ramsay’s nearest challenger after round two, dropped shots at the fourth and sixth before double bogeying the eighth to slip back into a tie for seventh at one over.