South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen produced a nine under par 64 to take a two shot lead over Welshman Rhys Davies after the third round of the Trophée Hassan II in Morocco.
Oosthuizen picked up ten birdies to one bogey on the Red Course at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam to move on to 20 under par for the tournament.
“I felt like I hit the ball well,” said Oosthuizen. “I hit it further with most of my clubs and my putting was good again. Nice to have ten birdies on my card - that doesn’t happen every day.”
The 27 year old had spoken earlier of the inspiration he has taken from some of Charl Schwartzel’s recent displays.
Oosthuizen’s compatriot landed consecutive European Tour titles earlier in the season and produced a fine performance at the WGC-CA Championship, narrowly missing out to Ernie Els.
And Oosthuizen believes his game is also now approaching a level where he can think about landing his maiden European Tour title.
“I can be hot and cold with the putter but I am finding more consistency in the greens now and reading the putts better, especially here where it feels more like South Africa with the weather as it is,” he added. “I am very happy with such a strong position. I haven’t done a lot going in with a lead before but I am playing well enough so it’s up to me to enjoy it.”
Challenge Tour graduate Davies, the halfway leader after an eight under 64 on the par 72 Blue Course in his second round, shot a 68 on the Red to sit two clear of France's Thomas Levet and another South African, Thomas Aiken.
The 24 year old Welshman, a team-mate of Rory McIlroy at the 2007 Walker Cup and third in the Maybank Malaysian Open two weeks ago, picked up three shots on the back nine after four birdies and two bogeys on the front nine to keep himself firmly in contention going into the final round.
“This is my second week on the bounce of being right in the mix and I’m enjoying it. It’s good to be at the top and good to be playing with these top class players and trying to beat them,” said Davies.
Levet also went round in 68, with Aiken shooting a 67.
“I am a little bit behind but four strokes is not too much to make up. It’s a really demanding golf course and you need to hit shots,” said former Ryder Cup player Levet.
Aiken, like Schwartzel and Oosthuizen part of a generation of South African golfers who look set to be challenging for top European Tour honours for years to come, admits he is enjoying the challenge of trying to keep pace with his compatriots.
“If your comrades play good golf then you end up pushing each other on and I think you could see that with Ernie [Els] and Charl in the States last week,” he said.
“They played some fantastic stuff in Miami and it does inspire you to play well. They’ve raised the bar and we all have to clear it. It’s like the four minute mile, as soon as one person runs it, others follow. We are all out here trying to push each other as hard as we can.”
Spain's Ignacio Garrido was one stroke further back following a 69, while England's Danny Willett shot up the leaderboard thanks to a 64, including four birdies in four holes from the 13th to the 16th.
"I've been playing well for a few weeks now and everything went my way today and I hit it really well," said Willett.