Pádraig Harrington and Darren Clarke stormed home in 33 to keep their slim chances of victory alive in the Volvo Golf Champions.
Having made mixed an eagle three at the third with three front nine bogeys, Harrington (reunited with caddie Ronan Flood who was fit for duty again following Friday's health scare) picked up three birdies coming home to post a 70 that left him tied for 10th with Clarke (72) on four under par.
The Irish pair are six shots adrift of Englishman Tommy Fleetwood, who did not play his best golf but still managed to battle his way to an impressive 69 that left him at the top of the leaderboard on 10 under par at Durban Country Club.
The 22-year old from Southport birdied the last to go into the final round one shot clear of Frenchman Victor Dubuisson, who also finished with a birdie for a round of 69, and Dutchman Joost Luiten, who posted a 70.
Michael Hey posted a second successive 73 to find himself tied for 27th in the 36-man field. But it was a day to forget for Simon Thornton, who hit just four fairways and took 33 putts in a disappointing 80.
Every cloud has a silver lining, however, and Thornton make take some solace from the fact that while he is first off on Sunday, he will go out with two-time Masters champion José María Olazábal.
Fleetwood birdied the third, fourth and ninth holes before the turn, dropping his only shot of the day on the par five 14th before sinking a six foot birdie putt on the last for the outright lead.
“Three-under around this golf course, when you're not on your game, is an absolutely brilliant score," Fleetwood said. "And I think it’s showing that I'm maturing as a golfer and I can actually score when I'm playing bad, which is one of the most important parts of being a professional golfer."
Fleetwood is bidding for his second European Tour title having earned his place in the Volvo Golf Champions courtesy of his victory over the 2014 Ryder Cup course in the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles last August.
A former amateur rival of Fleetwood, Dubuisson is also chasing his second European Tour victory following a superb end to the 2013 that included a maiden win in the Turkish Airlines Open by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Defending champion Louis Oosthuizen is a further shot back on eight under par following an up-and-down round of 71. The South African made seven birdies, but also had three bogeys on his card along with a triple bogey seven on the 16th, which meant he slipped from the top of the leaderboard.
“I had a good opportunity today to probably go to 12 under at least,” said the former Open Champion. “But a hole like 16 just gets you back into perspective in your mind, and I knew that 17, and 18 were important not to drop another shot.”
Clarke got off to an awful start with four bogeys in his first eight holes leaving him nine strokes off the lead.
But like Harrington, he found his scoring touch eventually and birdies at the ninth, 10th, 12th and 18th in a third successive round of sub-30 putts.
Volvo Golf Champions, Durban Country Club (Par 72)
206 T Fleetwood (Eng) 70 67 69,
207 V Dubuisson (Fra) 69 69 69, J Luiten (Ned) 70 67 70,
208 L Oosthuizen (RSA) 68 69 71,
209 B Grace (RSA) 74 67 68,
210 J Donaldson (Wal) 71 71 68, R Jacquelin (Fra) 67 73 70,
211 B Rumford (Aus) 73 70 68, C Schwartzel (RSA) 74 69 68,
212 D Clarke (Nir) 69 71 72, P Harrington (Irl) 71 71 70, M Manassero (Ita) 72 67 73, C Wood (Eng) 70 71 71, P Casey (Eng) 72 75 65,
213 M Siem (Ger) 70 71 72, M Jiménez (Esp) 76 70 67, J Quesne (Fra) 74 73 66, C Montgomerie (Sco) 70 74 69,
214 T Björn (Den) 79 68 67, T Aiken (RSA) 72 72 70, M Madsen (Den) 71 74 69,
215 M Ilonen (Fin) 73 73 69,
216 D Howell (Eng) 76 69 71,
217 D Van Der Walt (RSA) 71 71 75, D Lynn (Eng) 71 74 72, J Jeong (Kor) 73 76 68,
218 P Uihlein (USA) 70 78 70, M Hoey (Nir) 72 73 73, G Fdez-Castaño (Esp) 74 73 71, R Sterne (RSA) 72 73 73, D Fichardt (RSA) 73 71 74,
219 R Karlsson (Swe) 74 72 73, S Gallacher (Sco) 73 74 72,
220 K Aphibarnrat (Tha) 75 74 71,
222 S Thornton (Irl) 70 72 80,
227 J Olazábal (Esp) 73 77 77.