Rafa Cabrera Bello battled to a level par 70 on day three of the UBS Hong Kong Open to head into the final round with a share of the lead alongside Sam Brazel.
The Spaniard entered Saturday with a three-shot lead over his Australian playing partner and he extended that to five on the front nine but three bogeys in four holes before the turn and a double-bogey on the 14th saw him lose the lead for the first time since midday on Thursday.
Brazel turned in 34 and three birdies on the back nine had in him in front but birdies on the 15th and 17th kept Cabrera-Bello's hopes of a wire-to-wire victory alive.
England's Tommy Fleetwood was two shots behind the leaders at nine under, with American David Lipsky a further shot back at Hong Kong Golf Club.
David Howell had equalled the course record before the leaders even teed off with a 63 to get to seven under and he was alongside Andrew Dodt and Justin Walters.
A win for Cabrera Bello would cap off an excellent 2016 that has seen the 32 year old make an undefeated Ryder Cup debut and finish eighth on the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex without missing a single cut.
"Today my score has all colours of the rainbow in it," he said. "There's been a lot of positives and a lot of negatives.
"I was trying to find a stable day where I was just playing solid like I had these past two days. Staying patient, waiting for the birdies to come and I end up going up and down all day.
"The best thing is I'm still in it. I'm still leading. Of course it would have been nicer to have a few to spare but I still would have needed to play great tomorrow and I'm still in a position."
Today my score has all colours of the rainbow in it - Rafa Cabrera Bello
For Brazel, victory would be his first in just his ninth European Tour appearance and would come hot on the heels of an impressive top 20 finish at last week's Australian PGA Championship.
"It would mean the world [to win]," he said. "But there's 18 holes to go and I'm just going to approach it one shot at a time and try and enjoy the moment. Just learn from the experience.
"I started a little nervous on the first but I guess that's the situation you're in. I felt the nerves a little bit at lunch time and just sort of grounded it out and it was fun out there."
Cabrera Bello opened with just his second bogey of the week after sending his tee-shot right and having to chip out but the lead stayed at three as Brazel also made a bogey after going left off the tee into a bunker.
Fleetwood birdied the third but so did Cabrera Bello and the leading trio all made birdies on the fifth before Cabrera Bello had an untidy finish to the back nine.
A poor shot on the sixth from the leader left him an awkward 12-footer, resulting in a second bogey of the day, and a short missed putt on the next made it back-to-back bogeys for the first time this week.
He put his second shot on the ninth over the back of the green and failed to get up-and down but a birdie on the tenth steadied the ship and restored his three-shot lead.
Brazel holed a ten-footer on the 11th to cut the lead to two but Fleetwood then put his approach on the 13th to six feet for an eagle and all of a sudden, Cabrera Bello was just one clear.
A Brazel birdie on the same hole gave him a share of second and that was good enough for the lead after the next, as Cabrera Bello hit a tree while playing for a tiny gap with his second shot and put his third in a bunker en route to a double-bogey.
I'm just going to approach it one shot at a time and try and enjoy the moment - Sam Brazel
He bounced straight back with a 30-footer for birdie on the 15th but Brazel put his approach to tap-in range on the 16th to hit the front on his own.
A birdie on the 17th put Cabrera Bello back in a share of top spot and when Fleetwood bogeyed the last, the pair had a two-shot lead.
Lipsky had a double-bogey and an eagle in a rollercoaster 66, with Howell registering an eagle, two bogeys and seven birdies in carding the round of the week so far.
Walters signed for a 69, with Dodt registering a 67 to sit a shot ahead of Paul Dunne, Daniel Im, Thongchai Jaidee, Soomin Lee, Edoardo Molinari and Jason Scrivener.
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