Northern Irish duo Graeme McDowell and Gareth Maybin were locked in a fierce battle for the lead as the third round of the Andalucia Valderrama Masters approached its conclusion in Sotogrande.
McDowell - currently second in the Race to Dubai - held a two-shot advantage over his fellow countryman overnight and saw that extended early on as Maybin recorded bogeys on the opening two holes.
However, the 30 year old showed great determination to get back to five under with birdies at the third and fourth and he then moved into a share of the lead as McDowell double bogeyed the seventh.
The US Open champion got back on track with a fine three at the par four eighth, but Maybin responded by knocking in a 15-footer for birdie at the ninth.
McDowell then bogeyed ten to hand Maybin sole possession of the lead, but the former quickly returned to six under with a birdie at 11.
Thomas Bjorn was at the front of the chasing pack, the veteran Dane picking up birdies at the first, sixth, eighth and ninth on his way to an outward nine of 33.
That put him three behind the leaders on three under, with Miguel Angel Jimenez, James Kingston and Damien McGrane a shot further back.
Sergio Garcia was at one under following an encouraging 69 on day three, but Niclas Fasth had dropped to level par after three straight bogeys on the back nine.
Anthony Kang and Soren Kjeldsen both posted 68s to move up to level par and one over respectively.
Kang fired six birdies in all and was on course for the lowest round of the week before running up a double bogey at 16.
Race to Dubai leader Martin Kaymer went round in 70 - his best round of the week - but remained some way off the pace at three over.
With the German seemingly unlikely to achieve a top-two finish, the absent Lee Westwood is set to take over from Tiger Woods as World Number One when the latest rankings are released on Monday.