Shanghai - Graeme McDowell will take a one-shot lead into the final round of the WGC-HSBC Champions on Sunday as a host of top players gather behind ready to capitalise on any slip-up.
The Northern Irishman shot a one-under-par 71 in cold, windy and damp conditions in Shanghai on Saturday to stay ahead of a pack of seven players within four shots, including US Open champion Martin Kaymer and Masters champion Bubba Watson.
In second place, though, is the tournament's surprise package, Hiroshi Iwata of Japan, and McDowell confessed he knew "nothing" about the man who qualified by finishing third on the Japan Tour order of merit.
"I saw him make one golf swing. I never heard of him," said McDowell. "Looked like a beautiful golf swing. But genuinely I've never heard of him. No disrespect meant, just looking forward to seeing him tomorrow."
Iwata is 33 years old and despite playing his first WGC event, having notched one victory in Japan this year, showed few nerves among such exulted company.
He rolled home a 30-foot birdie putt at the 18th for a round of 68 to follow his 65 on Friday, the low round of the week.
"Maybe tomorrow coming up the last few holes, I might get a little bit nervous, but so far I'm calm. So I think I'm doing OK," Iwata told reporters.
Watson and Kaymer are back at nine-under after shooting 69 and 66 respectively.
Watson was thrilling and frustrating in equal measure. He hit the shot of the week on the long par-five eighth only to follow with a contender for worst putt of the tournament.
Faced with all of 240 yards to a tight pin at the front left of the green, Watson cut a high three-wood left to right across the water and was an inch from seeing it drop for an albatross two as it ran two and half feet past the hole.
The left-hander then tugged the putt for eagle horribly right.
"It was a great shot. I could tell by the reaction of the crowd it almost went in" said Watson. "But then I missed the putt. But let's don't bring that up."
And on the 10th, faced with around 80 yards to the pin after an imperious drive, Watson inexplicably dropped his sand wedge short into the front bunker resulting in a 'fried egg' lie.
His sand shot ran all the way to the back of the green.
McDowell, meanwhile hammered home a 30-footer for a birdie and Watson three-putted for a double bogey and in an instant fell five behind.
That stretched to six when Watson bogeyed the short 12th. But the man from Bagdad, Florida, closed the gap to two with four birdies and a bogey in his last five holes as McDowell dropped back to 11-under with a bogey at 17.
US Open champion Kaymer was quietly putting together the round of the day as only 15 players in the elite 78-man field broke 70 on the 7,261-yard par 72 layout.
The German notched four birdies on the front nine and three more coming home with a lone bogey at the 15th.
"Finally I could make some putts today," Kaymer said. "The first two days I played already really well but the putter was a little cold."Leading scores on Saturday after the third round of the $8.5 million World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions at Sheshan International Golf Club, Shanghai (par 72):
205 - Graeme McDowell (NIR) 67-67-71
206 - Hiroshi Iwata (JPN) 73-65-68
207 - Bubba Watson (USA) 71-67-69, Martin Kaymer (GER) 69-72-66
208 - Rickie Fowler (USA) 69-70-69, Tim Clark (RSA) 69-70-69
209 - Thorbjorn Olesen (DEN) 72-68-69, Ian Poulter (ENG) 70-67-72
210 - Jonas Blixt (SWE) 71-68-71
212 - Lee Westwood (ENG) 70-73-69, Brandt Snedeker 69-74-69, Marc Leishman (AUS) 72-71-69, Chris Kirk (USA) 69-74-69, Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) 70-70-72
213 - Hunter Mahan (USA) 74-68-71, Alexander Levy (FRA) 74-68-71, Wu Ashun (CHN) 74-70-69, Adam Scott (AUS) 70-72-71