Retief Goosen and Anders Hansen maintained their two-stroke advantage at the top of the leaderboard early on the third day of the Dubai Desert Classic.
South African Goosen, who turned 37 yesterday, will be hoping his first win at the prestigious event will come as a belated birthday present.
And with a birdie at the first hole, the world number three pulled clear of the chasing pack. But joint overnight leader Hansen picked up a shot at the second to join Goosen at 14 under.
Two shots back from the leaders was the 1997 winner Richard Green of Australia, who birdied the second.
Tiger Woods, another who has yet to taste success at the Emirates Golf Club, remained at 11 under following pars at the first and second as he goes round with Goosen and Hansen.
The field’s other Danish Hansen, Soren, birdied his opening two holes to move to 11 under as well, where Nick Dougherty had recovered to after a wobbly start.
The Liverpudlian bogeyed his first hole to drop back to 10 under, but showed character and confidence to birdie the next.
Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez moved to 11 under after birdies at the second, third and fifth.
Defending Dubai champion Ernie Els has made a solid start with two pars to remain at his overnight score of 10 under, and two birdies in his first three holes from Wales’ Bradley Dredge saw him join the South African on the leaderboard.
England’s Paul Casey, who has expressed a desire to go head to head with Woods in the final round, birdied the second to leave himself at nine under after four holes.
Henrik Stenson, looking for back-to-back titles after claiming last week’s Commercialbank Qatar Masters, started the day at seven under and picked up a shot at the second, but the Swede will need to turn pars into birdies if he is to trouble the leaders.
Darren Clarke, of Northern Ireland, dropped a shot at the second but birdied the fifth to remain one of a number of players at eight under.