The top two players in the Race to Dubai were fittingly poised to do battle for the DP World Tour Championship title in Dubai.
World number one Rory McIlroy, who secured a second money list title in three years with an event to spare, began today's third round just two shots off the lead at Jumeirah Golf Estates, but all too aware that halfway front-runner and defending champion Henrik Stenson would be a tough man to catch.
Stenson was 25-under-par in winning by six shots 12 months ago - a victory which ensured he became the first man to win the Race to Dubai and FedEx Cup in the same year - and went into the weekend top of the leaderboard again thanks to rounds of 68 and 66.
McIlroy was therefore keen to make early inroads, but endured a frustrating start with four straight pars before rolling in a hat-trick of birdies from the fifth.
Another birdie on the 10th then took McIlroy to 12-under-par and into a share of the lead with Stenson, who had missed two putts inside three feet but still recorded birdies on the fourth and eighth to remain in the frame to successfully defend a title for the first time in his career.
That personal milestone would also be worth more than $2m to Stenson, giving him the first prize of $1.3m ) and a bonus of $800,000 from the bonus pool on offer to the top 15 on the final Race to Dubai standings.
Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen had shared the lead thanks to five birdies in six holes from the third before three-putting the 11th, with England's Tyrrell Hatton and Spain's Rafael Cabrera-Bello another shot back on 10-under.