Li Haotong and Rory McIlroy were involved in an intriguing battle for the title as the final round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic got under way at Emirates Golf Club.
Chinese Li entered day four with a one-shot lead but while he played his first four holes in level par, playing partner McIlroy picked up a shot to share the lead at 20 under.
There were then nine players in a group four shots off the lead as a two-horse race threatened to develop in the UAE.
A win for McIlroy would see him equal Ernie Els as a three-time winner of this event and also go level with Darren Clarke as the European Tour's most prolific Northern Irish winner with 14.
Li was looking for just his second win from his first 54-hole lead, while McIlroy was seeking a remakable eighth consecutive top ten here since his win in 2009.
Low scoring had been the theme all week and Richie Ramsay continued that trend, posting a 64 to set the very early clubhouse target at 16 under.
Haydn Porteous bogeyed the first and the leading duo both also struggled, with McIlroy doing well to save par from a nasty lie off the tee and Li finding sand twice to drop into a share of the lead.
A pair of pars for the leaders on the second left the door open for the chasing pack and Tyrrell Hatton, Dylan Frittelli and Jeunghun Wang all made a couple of early birdies to join the group at 16 under.
Li and McIlroy then both made birdies on the par five third and with Alexander Levy dropping a shot ahead on the fourth, the leading pair were four clear of the pack.
They both parred the fourth as Chris Hanson became the second man to post a score at 16 under after a 65.
Miguel Ángel Jiménez had three birdies in his first ten holes, Chris Paisley turned in 33 and Andy Sullivan was level par through six to complete the group at 16 under.