Alexander Levy remained four shots clear after a solid rather than spectacular start to his third round at the 20th Volvo China Open.
The 23 year old Frenchman had burst clear with a second round 62 at Genzon Golf Club as he pursues a maiden European Tour title.
A birdied from five feet at the second briefly took Levy five clear, but he was bunkered off the tee at the short third and failed to get up and down for par.
Remaining 14 under through five holes kept Levy four clear of Spaniards Adrian Otaegui and Alvaro Quiros.
Otaegui had moved to 11 under with a 20 foot birdie putt at the third only to give the shot back two holes later.
Quiros, without a top-four finish on The European Tour since recording the last of his six victories in 2011, made a steady start with three pars and a birdie at the fourth.
English rookie Tyrrell Hatton and Finn Mikko Ilonen were a shot further back on nine under, while Ian Poulter enjoyed a much better day following his incorrect drop on Friday.
The Ryder Cup star almost missed the cut after his rules blunder saw him add a triple bogey to a three-putt double bogey on the previous hole yesterday, but responded with a five under par 67 that moved him into the top ten.
Levy birdied the long ninth to turn in 35, but Ilonen, Otaegui and Quiros all did likewise to remain four behind.
Otaegui then converted a 20 footer at the 11th and Quiros holed out from a similar range at the tenth to move the Spanish pair to within three of the leader.
Levy responded with a birdie from eight feet at the 11th and then struck his tee shot to six feet at the next for another gain.
He was still only four ahead of Quiros, however, who used his prodigious length off the tee to leave a chip and putt for birdie at the 11th, with Ilonen and Otaegui two shots further back in third.