Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry remain in contention the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship sharing second and fifth spots respectively.
Martin Kaymer topped the leaderboard after opening up a one shot third round lead over McIlroy and Ian Poulter.
After landing his maiden title at The National Course in 2008 Kaymer finished second last year and his bid for a second falcon trophy gathered pace today as the German birdied the last to edge ahead with a third consecutive five-under-par 67.
McIlroy and first round leader Poulter also dropped just one shot in their 67s to head the chasing pack at 14-under-par.
Sweden’s Peter Hanson shipped back-to-back birdies on the back nine in a 70 to sit at 13-under par with Lowry Alvaro Quiros and Chris Wood a further shot adrift.
McIlroy admits to being surprised by the high scoring this week given the increased rough and new rules regarding grooves and he will need to pull another storming final round out of the bag following low scoring final days on his final three outings last season in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Dubai which all led to top five finishes.
“I didn’t make many mistakes and I have put myself in a great position. It should be a good battle and it looks as if we are all playing very well so it should be an interesting day,” said the world number 10.
“There is no reason why I couldn’t go low in the final round. I didn’t think anything in the 20s would win, but obviously everyone has played well in the first tournament of the season. I would say 20 under is a very good target.”
At 25, Kaymer is a genuine contender for a Ryder Cup debut in Wales, a fact which was underlined by an enquiry from captain Colin Montgomerie last night over the status of the German’s foot which was injured last year in a go-karting accident.
“Two years ago I was leading by six shots, but I was very nervous, but it still felt really special. But on Sunday I played really shy and didn’t go for the flags and I left a lot of putts short, my self confidence wasn’t there,” said Kaymer, who will play the entire season with the plates in his foot following the high speed crash.
“This has changed after four wins on the European Tour and winning big events last year in France and at Loch Lomond that attitude has definitely changed.”
For Poulter, who set the first round pace with a bogey-free seven-under-par 65, it is easy to draw comparisons to his victory in Singapore in November when he returned from a similar break to end a two year winless streak.
“Sometimes in a busy stretch you feel tired, but I feel wide awake, I feel really good,” said the world number 12.
“I feel strong and I’m in a nice position so obviously the adrenaline is there. I drove it pretty solid, hit my irons very nicely. I managed to have a good look at a few putts, a few slid by, but a few went in.”