DUBAI • Henrik Stenson has one hand on the European Order of Merit title after a string of birdies on the back nine of his third round at the DP World Tour Championship yesterday lifted the Swede up the leader board as his money-list rivals failed to make headway.
France's Victor Dubuisson fired himself into contention for the tournament win with an eight-under 64 to lead by one shot with a 203 total after 54 holes.
Having brought his struggles of the first two days into the third with bogeys on holes four, six and 10, Stenson clicked into gear in the afternoon sunshine in Dubai as he holed five birdies in the last seven holes - including a chip straight in from the greenside rough on the 16th.
"I turned it around at least and, yeah, I've got to be pretty pleased with the way we managed to play on the way home," said the 40-year old.
His round of 70 moved him to 211 for the tournament, level with world No. 2 Rory McIlroy, who had earlier threatened with one of his familiar surges to give himself a sniff of a chance to usurp Stenson.
But the Northern Irishman found the water with his second shot on the 18th hole, and the bogey left him on 68 for the day.
"Maybe I was a little too aggressive with it and pulled it slightly, as anything left of that pin is going to go in the water, unless you hit it way past the pin," he said.
Coming into the tournament second on the money list, Masters winner Danny Willett's challenge wilted as a 76 and a 217 total left him well out of contention for both the event and season honours.
Sweden's Alex Noren posted a 69 to leave him tied for 13th overall at 209. He needs a top-two finish in Dubai to have a chance of topping the money list.
After a steady first two days, Dubuisson emerged to head the season-ending championship. The Frenchman's 64 included seven birdies and an eagle achieved through a contender for shot of the tournament on hole five - a majestic approach which gently spun back into the cup.
"Yeah, sometimes it goes in," he said of his eagle. "I made a lucky bogey on the next hole, so it kind of set it up."
Rivalling the Frenchman - both for the tournament and individual piece of brilliance - was English youngster Matthew Fitzpatrick.
His 66 included a monster eagle putt on hole seven, as well as seven birdies. The only aberration was a double-bogey on the 13th hole.
The 22-year-old was joined on 204 by compatriot Tyrrell Hatton and Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts.
Tied-second after day one, it is where Colsaerts is placed once more after a topsy-turvy round three of two eagles, six birdies but also four bogeys.
Fellow halfway leader Sergio Garcia of Spain fell away after a round of 74 which included four bogeys and a double-bogey on the front nine.
EUROPEAN TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP
Day 4: StarHub Ch204, 3.30pm