Rory McIlroy put one hand on the Race to Dubai title by moving up to second in the DP World Tour Championship on Saturday, just one shot back from leader Andy Sullivan.
McIlroy will head into the final round on Sunday with a four-shot advantage over Danny Willett, his nearest rival in the battle to be crowned this season's European order of merit winner.
The world number three has claimed the lucrative Race to Dubai title twice in the last three years and he could add a third crown this weekend.
McIlroy carded a seven-under third round of 68 - his best on the Earth Course - to go 15 under for the tournament, with Willett tied for sixth at 11 under after going round in 67.
Four-time major winner McIlroy birdied four of the first seven holes in a blistering start, then three in succession on the stretch after only his third bogey of the week at the 12th.
The Northern Irishman's birdie at 15 put him into the lead, but Sullivan remains the man to catch at the Jumeirah Golf Estates after clinging on to top spot at 16 under with an impressive end to his round of 68.
Englishman Sullivan had made back-to-back 66s to hold a one-shot advantage over Emiliano Grillo at the halfway mark and gave himself every chance of claiming a fourth European Tour title of a memorable year, despite not being at his best in the third round.
The 29-year-old Englishman was clearly unperturbed by seeing McIlroy leapfrog him at the 15th, as he birdied the same hole to take a share of the lead and holed a 20-foot putt at 17 to became the outright leader once again.
McIlroy missed a birdie putt at the last which he would have been expected to sink and Sullivan then held his nerve to make par with a putt from around 12 feet to stay at the top of the leaderboard.
Patrick Reed is three shots adrift of Sullivan in outright third as a result of his 68, while Byeong-hun An and Grillo are joint-fourth at 12 under following rounds of 66 and 71 respectively.
Willett remains in the hunt after a 67 which included an eagle at the short 15th as well as four birdies, but Justin Rose's faint Race to Dubai hopes are almost certainly over following his six-over 78, leaving him tied 48th at one under.