Defending champion Justin Rose turned in 33 to open up a one-shot lead during round three of the WGC-HSBC Champions.
American Tony Finau entered Saturday with a three-shot advantage but he turned in one over to sit a shot behind Rose, who moved to 11 under.
Another Englishman in Tommy Fleetwood was then at nine under, a shot clear of Americans Keegan Bradley and Xander Schauffele and two ahead of Masters Tournament champion Patrick Reed.
A win for Rose would make him just the second player after Tiger Woods to successfully defend a World Golf Championships title, while he could also move back to Number One in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Schauffele needed a nice chip to birdie the par five second but Finau, Reed and Rose all took care of it with the minimum of fuss, with Reed bouncing back from a bogey on the first.
Fleetwood holed from the fringe on the third to join Rose at nine under before playing partner Schauffele followed him in from eight feet to make it a three-way tie for second.
That was soon just two back as Finau missed the green and played a poor chip on the third for a first bogey of the day to give back that gain from second.
Fleetwood then put his tee-shot on the fourth to ten feet for back-to-back birdies and he was just one shot off the lead.
The 27 year old missed the green on the fifth and surrendered a bogey, and he was replaced in second by Schauffele who made a birdie on the same hole.
Schauffele then double-bogeyed the sixth and the lead was briefly back to two before there was a two-shot swing in the final group back on the fifth.
Rose holed an 18-footer to get into double-figures and heap the pressure on Finau, with the man from Utah missing a short one to leave himself in a share of the lead.
Schauffele bounced back with a birdie on the seventh and was joined at nine under by Bradley, who recovered from a bogey on the first with an eagle on the second and birdies on the third, seventh and eighth.
A stunning approach into the seventh moved Rose into the lead and when he holed a 12-footer on the par five eighth, he was two ahead.
Bradley and Schauffele both bogeyed the ninth to fall to eight under but that was just three back as Rose found sand off the tee at the same hole and could not recover.
Reed also bogeyed the ninth to slip to seven under, one ahead of Thai Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Argentinian Emiliano Grillo and Americans Billy Horschel and Andrew Putnam.