World number one Rory McIlroy clocked a 65-7 under par third round to take a three-stroke lead in the rain-delayed Dubai Desert Classic.
The Northern Irishman had eight birdies and a bogey to reach 15 under on the Emirates Club’s Majlis course.
Englishmen Callum Shinkwin (67) and Dan Bradbury (68) are second.
Overnight co-leader Richard Bland netted a 71 to sit 11 under in a group including fellow Englishman Ian Poulter (69) and American Patrick Reed (69).
The final round of the DP World Tour event will be played on Monday, a day later than expected, after heavy rain on the first day, only 12 out of 132 players completed their first round in time.
McIlroy, 33, birdied the first four holes as well as the 13th, 14th, 15th and 17th before unleashing a shot with a six on the last.
“It felt like the good golf came in two bursts and then the rest was okay,” McIlroy said.
“I held on. I still don’t feel quite in control of my game. But today was much better than yesterday, so that was a positive.
“It’s my first start of the year. I don’t think I’ve ever won on my first start of the year – I’ve had a lot of chances in Abu Dhabi over the years, and I haven’t never quite successful.
“So tomorrow is a great opportunity to try and do something I’ve never done before.”
Adria Arnaus and Angel Hidalgo of Spain, Shaun Norris of South Africa and last week’s winner Victor Perez of France are the other players at 11 under.
New Zealand’s Ryan Fox shot a 66 to enter the fray at 10 under, alongside Belgium’s Thomas Pieters, England’s Matt Wallace and Scotland’s Calum Hill.
Reed was cleared by the tour after claiming on social media that he identified a ball as his that lodged in the wrong tree on the 17th hole.
A tour umpire used binoculars to confirm that a ball with Reed’s specific marking was in the tree.