Abu Dhabi - An imperious Martin Kaymer almost galloped out of sight of world No 1 Rory McIlroy and the chasing pack, opening up a six-shot lead at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship on Saturday.
The German world number 12, winner in Abu Dhabi on three previous occasions and holder of the tournament record tally of 24-under par, shot a bogey-free seven-under par third round of 65 to reach 20-under par total for 54 holes.
Belgian 22-year-old Thomas Pieters started the day in second place one behind Kaymer and was still in the same position. But despite a steady two-under par 70 round, the gap between him and the leader increased to six shots.
One behind Pieters at 13-under par were Austrian Bernd Wiesberger (66) and Frenchman Alexander Levy (67), while McIlroy, despite hitting the ball great from tee to green, could only manage a one-under par 71 and slipped to tied fifth place at 12-under par alongside South Africa's Charl Schwartzel (65) and Gary Stal (67) of France.
After being flawless and making five birdies on the front nine, Kaymer looked in danger of dropping at least one shot on the par-5 10th hole, where his second shot got stuck into bushes.
He took a drop and hit his fourth into the greenside bunker. The German then calmly holed his bunker shot for a par, much like he did on Friday from the same place for a birdie.
Several times in the past, including as recently as last year's US Open, Kaymer has opened up huge lead going into the final day, and he said he would take those experience into Sunday's fourth round.
"I enjoy it. I'm not scared of leading a golf tournament. I really enjoy the challenge, because it's a challenge against yourself.
"You challenge yourself all day long and it's about trying to minimise the mistakes and the bogeys," said the 28-year-old German.
"On 10, that was a big, big bonus. It was a long bunker shot, too. Got the right spin, the right yardage, and I think it was more luck than skill.
"After the second shot, I found myself in a bush, and needed to drop. And from the bunker, holed the bunker shot to make a five. That was big for momentum where easily you can get a bogey, double-bogey."
As for his plans on Sunday, and if it included him trying to break his winning record of 24-under par, Kaymer added: "You have to really take care of not making bogeys.
"I know that that sounds a little bit negative, but it shouldn't sound negative. It's more like that you play smart and wait for your chance and not try to force it and not force to get to that record.
"The record is not that interesting for me tomorrow. To me it is important that I win the golf tournament; if it's by one shot or by six shots or by ten shots, I don't really care as long as I win."
After hitting 17 greens in regulation and yet finishing on one-under par 71, McIlroy conceded defeat to Kaymer as far as the championship was concerned.
"I just didn't putt well at all. Very disappointed," said the Northern Irishman.
"I hit the ball just as well as I did yesterday. Gave myself so many chances and didn't convert any, really.
"I am now trying to win the other tournament. Martin's playing in something a little different than everyone else. I think I'm two behind Thomas and I will try and catch him. It's obviously very unrealistic that I'm going to catch Martin tomorrow."
Complete third-round scores in the $2.7m Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship on Saturday at the par-72 Abu Dhabi Golf Club:
196 - Martin Kaymer (GER) 64-67-65
202 - Thomas Pieters (BEL) 65-67-70
203 - Bernd Wiesberger (AUT) 72-65-66, Alexander Levy (FRA) 66-70-67
204 - Charl Schwartzel (RSA) 71-68-65, Gary Stal (FRA) 68-69-67, Rory McIlroy (NIR) 67-66-71
205 - Victor Dubuisson (FRA) 69-72-64, Jamie Donaldson (WAL) 73-67-65, Dawie van der Walt (RSA) 70-70-65, Peter Uihlein (USA) 67-68-70
206 - Gregory Bourdy (FRA) 66-74-66, Miguel Angel Jimenez (ESP) 72-67-67, Eddie Pepperell (ENG) 70-68-68, Morten Orum Madsen (DEN) 68-69-69
207 - An Byeong-hun (KOR) 67-75-65, Anthony Wall (ENG) 70-71-66, Marcus Fraser (AUS) 72-68-67, Branden Grace (RSA) 66-74-67, Steve Webster (ENG) 73-67-67, Niclas Fasth (SWE) 69-70-68, Robert Karlsson (SWE) 67-71-69, Tyrrell Hatton (ENG) 66-71-70, Richard Green (AUS) 68-68-71, James Morrison (ENG) 68-67-72
208 - Oliver Wilson (ENG) 71-71-66, Paul Lawrie (SCO) 68-73-67, Emiliano Grillo (ARG) 70-70-68, Soren Hansen (DEN) 69-69-70
209 - Seve Benson (ENG) 69-73-67, Andy Sullivan (ENG) 71-71-67, Maximillian Kieffer (GER) 70-71-68, Anders Hansen (DEN) 68-73-68, George Coetzee (RSA) 68-73-68, Mikko Ilonen (FIN) 66-75-68, Ross Fisher (ENG) 71-69-69, Rafael Jacquelin (FRA) 69-71-69, YE Yang (KOR) 70-70-69, Oliver Fisher (ENG) 69-70-70, Mike Lorenzo-Vera (FRA) 69-69-71
210 - Alex Noren (SWE) 67-75-68, Scott Hend (AUS) 70-70-70, Kristoffer Broberg (SWE) 69-71-70, Alejandro Canizares (ESP) 69-70-71,
211 - Ernie Els (RSA) 70-72-69, Justin Rose (ENG) 73-69-69, Craig Lee (SCO) 73-68-70, Richard Sterne (RSA) 71-70-70, Jordi Garcia Pinto (ESP) 70-71-70, Andrew Johnston (ENG) 73-68-70, Nicolas Colsaerts (BEL) 68-71-72, Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA) 72-67-72, Damien McGrane (IRL) 71-69-71
212 - Bradley Dredge (WAL) 72-70-70, Robert Rock (ENG) 69-73-70, Jeev Milkha Singh (IND) 68-73-71, Danny Willett (ENG) 70-71-71, Simon Khan (ENG) 73-67-72, Anirban Lahiri (IND) 72-68-72, Renato Paratore (ITA) 70-69-73
213 - Johan Carlsson (SWE) 70-72-71, Matthew Nixon (ENG) 68-71-74
214 - Jbe Kruger (RSA) 74-68-72, Oliver Farr (WAL) 73-69-72, Thorbjorn Olesen (DEN) 72-69-72, Richard Bland (ENG) 69-73-72
215 - Rickie Fowler (USA) 67-75-73, David Drysdale (SCO) 70-71-74
217 - Tian-lang Guan (Am-PRC) 70-69-78
218 - Jason Palmer (ENG) 71-71-76
219 - Darren Fichardt (RSA) 69-73-77, Jorge Campillo (ESP) 72-70-77