Danny Willett continued his brilliant form at Emirates Golf Club with a second consecutive 65 to take a one-shot lead into the final round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
The Englishman began the day one shot behind 2012 champion Rafa Cabrera-Bello but by the end of round three he had moved to 16 under, one clear of the Spaniard and two ahead of Andy Sullivan.
Willett finished runner-up to Rory McIlroy in last season's Race to Dubai, but the World Number Two will need to produce something spectacular to successfully defend this title from eight shots back on Sunday.
The highlight of Willett's round was a brilliant, curling 30-foot eagle putt on the 13th that moved him two ahead of the pack and into a lead he would not relinquish by the end of the day.
The 28 year old was one of the stars of Europe's emphatic recent victory at the EURASIA CUP presented by DRB-HICOM, and a fourth European Tour win tomorrow would be a major boost to his ambitions to make Darren Clarke's Ryder Cup team in September.
"It was good," he said.
I played great golf today. I played really well yesterday and kept the foot down and could have been a couple better today. I'm delighted - Danny Willett
"I kept the ball under fantastic control with some crosswinds and did everything right really. I had couple of hiccups in there today where it could have been a little different but I kept the head on and kept moving forward.
"I think mentally, I feel like I'm very much in control of myself, which obviously helps. And swing-wise, I've got a few things that I'm trying to do. I'm trying to keep it as simple as possible and let the mind be a little bit calmer, and it seems to be working so far.
"It's a great golf event. I think the atmosphere around this golf course is fantastic, second to none. There are little gathering areas around tee boxes and greens, and we get a lot of support."
Cabrera-Bello is a man in form after finishing in a tie for second at last week's Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, and he looked inspired early in his round when he holed a brilliant bunker shot for eagle on the third and followed it with a birdie.
Dropped shots on the seventh and 12th stalled his progress but he rallied with birdies on the 14th and 17th to emerge as Willett's nearest challenger.
Sullivan began his tournament with a double bogey on Thursday but has not dropped a shot in the following 53 holes, and a 66 on Saturday kept the Englishman well in the hunt for a fourth European Tour title.
Dutchman Joost Luiten was then at 13 under thanks to a 67, a shot clear of South African Haydn Porteous and two ahead of Australia's Scott Hend and England's Chris Wood.
McIlroy came home in 31 to sign for a 68 while Joachim B Hansen produced the low round of the day with a 64 to get to nine under.
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