Angel Cabrera kept his cool in energy-sapping conditions to go four shots clear at the Barclays Singapore Open yesterday, but Lee Westwood, Vijay Singh and Adam Scott all remain in striking distance.
The Argentine US Open champion shot a one-under round of 70 to sit on nine-under for the tournament, four ahead of second placed Jin Park of the US, who is searching for his maiden professional victory.
Westwood is one further adrift after a par round while three-time Major winner Singh (70) and defending champion Scott (73) are both three-under, with their work cut out for today.
A lot of players had difficulty reading the fast greens yesterday, including world No. 2 Phil Mickelson, who slumped out of contention with an error-strewn 73 to be nine behind Cabrera.
Mickelson complained of an upset stomach and heat exhaustion after leaving the course and received treatment from a doctor.
The conditions were so trying that his caddy Jim Mackay failed to finish a round with the US star for the first time in 15 years, leaving the course on the sixth hole to be replaced by the world No.2's father-in-law.
Korea's K.J. Choi, tipped by a host of star names this week to be the first Asian to win a Major, also felt the pace with a 75 to be two-over for the tournament.
In the searing heat and high humidity, only six players managed to shoot below par, illustrating how tough the Serapong course has become after a US$12 million revamp since last year.
Cabrera though looked comfortable, with birdies on the fourth and seventh before a bogey on the 12th spoiled his card. But he bounced back with another birdie on the 17th to take a four-shot cushion into the final day.
"I'm feeling comfortable and hitting the ball well. I've got a good advantage going into Sunday. It's a nice cushion," he said. "Obviously, if Scott, Singh or Westwood put up a good round they will have a chance but I have a good advantage. I'll just play my game and try to finish it off."
Although Cabrera did not pick a danger man, it could well be world No. 6 Scott, who has won here for the past two years and knows the course well.
The Australian said he was confident of reeling in Cabrera.
"Absolutely, especially on this golf course. There is trouble lurking everywhere and it is easy to get into trouble so six shots is definitely doable," he said. "I'm obviously going to have to play very well to do it and hope that Angel doesn't come out with his best, but if I can get off to a quick start I can be in the hunt."
Like Mickelson, Singh, who won his last tournament in Korea, was shattered after his round, but he too insisted six strokes could be made up.
"I may have a chance," he said. "I will play a bit more aggressive with the iron shots. It's a really tough course to judge the distances, the approaches and how much the ball will roll."
The surprise package of the tournament has been Park, playing on his first full season of the Asian Tour.
He admitted he had never felt so nervous, but said he was lapping up the experience.
"I have never been so nervous for all 18 holes in my life. I was a nervous wreck. The whole round was a blur," he said. "But I managed to play well and hold in there."