Thomas Bjorn (Getty Images)
Thomas Björn turned on the style to grab the 54 hole lead at the Commercialbank Qatar Masters presented by Dolphin Energy in Doha.
The former Ryder Cup star, who last October was one of Colin Montgomerie's vice-captains at The Celtic Manor Resort, birdied four of the last five holes to charge from one behind Austrian Markus Brier to one in front.
Bjorn, 40 in less than a fortnight, added a bogey-free 66 to his second round 65 and will resume the chase for the €303,113 first prize on 11 under par.
Brier, the World Number 478, was left to rue bogey sixes on both the ninth and 18th as he handed in a 69.
First his approach flew over the green, then he was twice in the dense rough right of the final fairway and had to lay up short of the water with his third shot.
Defending champion Robert Karlsson remains a threat three strokes behind Björn in third spot, outdoing even the leader with five birdies in his last seven holes for a 69.
“When you finish a round with four birdies in the last five, you have to walk off very happy,” said Björn, who won last year’s Estoril Open de Portugal.
“I played fantastic yesterday to shoot that 65 and felt comfortable this morning, and felt good with the way my golf is. I'm feeling quite comfortable on the golf course considering it's been a while since I've been in that kind of situation, so I'm pleased with the way the day panned out.”
The ten-time European Tour winner started his run with a curling 18 footer at the 14th and finished with three more birdies, pitching over the lake to within three feet of the flag on the last.
Brier, who did not have a single top-20 finish on The European Tour last year and survived Qualifying School with nothing to spare in November, is playing on a sponsor's invitation and could yet reignite his career in dramatic fashion.
He had birdied the fourth and sixth before his slip at the ninth and picked up more strokes on the 11th, 12th and 16th thanks to a 25 foot putt.
“Obviously when you bogey the last, it's never nice,” admitted Brier. “But I just had a really bad shot and deserved the bad lie there, so I had no chance going for three. It happens, and the rest was good.
“I made a few crunch putts at the end, especially 16, 17 was good. I got a bit lazy with my shots at the end, but I managed to keep my score good, and just one shot back is nothing.”
South African Thomas Aiken is in fourth place on seven under, four behind, and one further back come 2009 winner Alvaro Quiros and England's Richard Finch.