Patrick Reed is on course to become the first American to win the European Tour’s Race to Dubai at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship.
Reed yields the lead with English mates Laurie Canter and Matthew Fitzpatrick on 11 under with one round to play.
Reed has long spoken of his wish to be a truly international player and become the first American to lift the Harry Vardon Trophy, and a gutsy short game masterclass has put him on the edge of history in the UAE.
He leads the standings and will win the overall title with a triumph in Dubai.
Still, England’s Lee Westwood is just one shot back and he will be crowned Europe’s best golfer if he wins on the Jumeirah Golf Estates’ Earth course.
It would be a third Harry Vardon Trophy for the 47-year-old, 20 years after he won his first.
Westwood holed four birdies in six holes on the back nine to post a four-under 68.
“I’m really happy,” he said. “I just really played the same as I played the first couple of days, just solid stuff.”
The former World Number One is joined on 10 under by Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre (66) Spain’s Adri Arnaus (67) and Viktor Hovland (66), the Norwegian who is bidding for a maiden European Tour win to add to his second PGA Tour title, won at last week’s Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico.
Westwood’s round sets up an intriguing final day. He had gone into the tournament as one of four players – Tommy Fleetwood, Collin Morikawa and Reed being the others – guaranteed to win the season-long Race to Dubai prize if he were to triumph at this final event.
Reed began the day with a two-shot lead but bogeys on the 12th and 14th holes saw him slip back.
His tee shot on the par-three 17th avoided the water by inches but he saved par and then holed a six-foot birdie putt on the last to sign for a one-under 71 and finish in a tie for the lead.
Reed admitted his performance was “poor” but he was able to lean on his short game to still have a share of the lead.
“I’m trying not to really think about that (winning the Race to Dubai) honestly,” said Reed. “If it happens, it would be unbelievable.
“It was always a goal of mine obviously to win golf tournaments but to win this one and also to win the Race to Dubai and be the first American would be amazing.”
Reed began the week with a 460-point lead in the season-long standings, but with 2,000 points on offer to the winner, it is mathematically possible for 61 of the 65-man field to finish top of the money list.
Fleetwood’s hopes floundered in round three. He started the day on six under, four off the lead but had four bogeys in a two-over 74 to drop away.
Morikawa, who won his first major at the US PGA Championship earlier this year, carded a 69 and is at five under.