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Henrik Stenson had four birdies in the last five holes to stay ahead after three rounds of the $8 million DP World Tour Championship in Dubai on Saturday, but the Swede was feeling the heat from in-form Frenchman Victor Dubuisson.
At the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates, Stenson closed with a five-under par 67 for a three-day tally of 17-under par 199, but that was good enough for just a one-shot lead over the 23-year-old Dubuisson, clearly enjoying the form of his life.
The winner of last week's Turkish Airlines Open played an astonishing round of eight-under par 64. He made as many as 11 birdies during the round, after opening with a bogey on the first, and then making a double bogey on the 10th.
As far as winning the Race to Dubai is concerned, Dubuisson has a chance for that, but he will have to win on Sunday and then hope Stenson fades away to tied 31st or worse.
Stenson's closest rival in becoming the new European number one was England's Ian Poulter, who shot a round of six-under par 66 and was tied third alongside Spaniard Alezandro Canizares (70) at 13-under par 203.
The other two in contention for the top spot - England's Justin Rose and Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell - both shot rounds of four-under par 68, but lost further ground to Stenson. Rose was tied sixth at 11-under par, while McDowell was at eight-under par.
Defending champion and former world number one Rory McIlroy, who said after the second round that he possibly needed two 65s to win the trophy again, could only get a 67 and was seven shots behind Stenson at 10-under par 206.
"It was a bit of a tough day for me. I didn't pick up any birdies early on, and then made two on the fifth and seventh, before turning the momentum the wrong way with a poor second shot on the 10th, where I hit my sand wedge second shot at least an inch behind the ball," said Stenson.
"But I stayed patient, and three birdies on the trot from 14th kind of got me back on the track."
As for his plans on Sunday, Stenson said: "There's no point getting ahead of myself. There's till one more day to go and I have to give it my best. It's all about being in position on Sunday afternoon, and once again, at least I'm in position when we start on Sunday.
"I know the guys are going to try their hardest to attack again tomorrow. Victor is playing incredible golf at the moment. I kept hearing that I was the hottest player in the world, but I think he's just jumped up and grabbed that title the last two weeks, winning last week and then shooting the score that he did today. So, he's obviously someone to watch carefully tomorrow."
Dubuisson, who has now made as many 52 birdies in his last seven rounds, said: "I am very confident about tomorrow. I will try to do my best. And you know, sometimes it goes your way, sometimes not, but I will do the same as today and the first two rounds. I will try to do my best on every shot and then we'll see.
"I'm very happy to play with Henrik tomorrow... he's a great guy and he's the best player of the year, so I'm very excited."
Poulter, who made two bogeys in his round of 66, was bullish about his chances of catching up with Stenson.
"I'm pressing really hard on this golf course, and it's easy to make mistakes when you're doing that. And I feel I've done my job today. I've made plenty of birdies, two bogeys on two par 3s, which is really frustrating but I'm right there," said the world number 15 Englishman.
"I can't ask for more than that going into Sunday's round. I've put myself into position to try to kick his backside tomorrow and we'll see."