Anders Hansen held a one-shot lead midway through the final round of the Portugal Masters at Victoria Clube de Golfe.
The 46 year old announced his retirement at this event last year but has an exemption via the career money list and had fulfilled his minimum requirement to keep his European Tour Membership heading into this week.
He has admitted that even a win here would not bring him out of semi-retirement, but it would make him the oldest winner of the season and the oldest ever winner of the event.
He turned in 32 to get to 21 under and sit a shot clear of defending champion Andy Sullivan, and two ahead of three-time Major Championship winner Padraig Harrington, Paul Lawire and Mikko Korhonen - who, at 116th on the Race to Dubai, was well on course to move into the top 111 and keep his card.
Sullivan's average score for his last seven rounds in Vilamoura is 65.4 and his mission to go low again got off to the perfect start as he birdied the first and second with putts of ten and eight feet to jump into a share of the lead.
His spell in a share did not last long, however, as Korhonen birdied the second for the third day in a row from 25 feet to jump out to 19 under, with playing partner Harrington also making a gain after a stunning bunker shot to take a share of second.
Sullivan made a third birdie of the day on the fourth but Korhonen and Hansen in the group behind followed him in - the latter courtesy of an exquisite pitch to tap-in range.
The fifth has played as the second easiest hole on the course this week and Sullivan made his fourth birdie of the day after leaving an eagle putt short, with Hansen also taking advantage of the par five to make it a three-way tie.
The Dane now had the wind in his sails and an excellent tee-shot set up a third birdie in a row on the sixth and he was at the top of the leaderboard on his own.
Korhonen dropped a first shot of the day on the seventh with Harrington able to make a birdie and those two were in a tie for third at 19 under.
Lawrie - who finished second at this event in 2008 - then joined them at that mark as he recovered from a bogey on the third with birdies on the fourth, fifth, eighth and ninth to turn in 32.
Frenchman Benjamin Hebert was then at 18 under, making four birdies in a row from the 11th to sit seven under for his round.
Oliver Fisher - ranked 114th - was also looking good to keep his playing privileges at 17 under with three to play, alongside clubhouse leader Lucas Bjerregaard, Nacho Elvira, Joakim Lagergren, David Lipsky and Chris Paisley.