St Andrews - Miguel Angel Jimenez shot par 72 in blustery conditions to remain 9-under overall and two shots clear heading to the final round of the Senior British Open on Saturday.
Tied for second were Tom Pernice (71) and Kirk Triplett (73) of the United States, defending champion Bernhard Langer (73) and Stephen Ames (74) of Canada.
A dozen others, including 68-year-old Tom Watson, were within four strokes of the leader.
Only 13 men broke par in the third round at St. Andrews in winds gusting up to 40km/h.
"We started with some flow and then we had a lot of ebb," Triplett said.
Jimenez's four birdies neatly cancelled out his four dropped shots. He made the unlikeliest of birdies at the long 14th when his blind approach from thick rough somehow bounced and rolled its way to no more than a foot from the cup. A neat up-and-down from the Road Hole bunker left of the 17th green kept things going. But a 10-foot putt for birdie on the final green slid past. It was, he felt, a day for patience.
"It would mean a lot to win The Senior Open, especially here at St. Andrews," Jimenez said.
"Seve (Ballesteros) was the first Spaniard to win The Open on this golf course, and it would be amazing if I could join the club with him."
Watson won the British Open five times, but not at St. Andrews, and remains hopeful of annexing this seniors title for a record-breaking fourth time.
"It's good to be in position," he said.