Li Haotong battled to a front nine of 35 to take a one-shot lead into the closing stages of the Turkish Airlines Open at Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort.
The Chinese fired a wonderful 63 on day three but had just a single bogey to show for his effort on Sunday as he slipped to 16 under, one shot clear of defending champion Justin Rose.
Major Champions Martin Kaymer and Danny Willett were then at 13 under alongside Adrian Otaegui and Matthias Schwab as the sixth Rolex Series event of the season was set for a tense finish.
Li is looking to become the first Asian player to win a Rolex Series title while Rose - who would return to Number One in the Official World Golf Ranking with a win - was aiming to be the first man to successfully defend one.
Li needed to get up and down to save par on the first but he could not repeat the feat on the second and his lead was cut to two shots.
The 23 year old hit his first green in regulation on the fourth and got down in two, and his lead stayed at two through six holes with Rose failing to pick up a shot.
The 2013 US Open champion hit the green in two at the par-five seventh to make a birdie as Li made a remarkable par after finding trees, then rough, then sand and getting up and down.
Willett holed a 12-footer on the first but failed to get up and down on the second, with six pars following before the Englishman hit a stunning third into the ninth.
Austrian Schwab made a birdie-birdie start but gave the shot back on the third before birdieing the eighth to turn in 32.
An eagle from the back fringe at the par-five 12th then catapulted him to 12 under and an excellent approach to the next put him in a share of third.
Kaymer birdied the first and third but then made seven pars before back-to-back gains on the 11th and 12th moved the German to 13 under.
Spaniard Otaegui then made that a four-man group as he turned in 31 with birdies on the second, seventh and ninth - courtesy of a beautiful approach - before holing from ten feet at the 13th.
Dane Thorbjørn Olesen dropped a shot on the first but birdied the second from ten feet before making another bogey on the next to sit alone at 12 under.
Ireland's Paul Dunne, Englishmen Tommy Fleetwood and Sam Horsfield, Spaniard Pablo Larrazábal and Frenchman Alexander Levy were 11 under.