Thomas Bjorn can seal his Ryder Cup return in style after claiming a commanding lead in the BMW PGA Championship with a stunning scoring burst at Wentworth.
Bjorn carded six birdies in a row - just two short of the European Tour record - and made another on the 18th to cover the back nine in 30 for the second time in three days.
That left the 43-year-old Dane on 15 under par and five shots ahead of two-time winner Luke Donald, with joint halfway leader Shane Lowry a shot behind after a disappointing 73.
Northern Irleand’s Rory McIlroy recovered from a double bogey on the opening hole to shoot a 69 and finish eight under par alongside Holland’s Joost Luiten.
Bjorn had also taken six on the first after heavy rain overnight and into Saturday morning saw tee times moved back three hours, while a bogey on the fifth briefly left him three shots behind Lowry.
However, the former Wentworth resident carded his first birdie of the day on the sixth and then six in a row from the 11th before narrowly missing from five feet on the 17th.
“I’m starting to warm to this place,” joked Bjorn, who was not a fan of the controversial redesign by Ernie Els a few years ago. “I got off to a really rough start with a lot of loose swings early on but hit a really good shot on 10 and started to feel more comfortable.
Donald’s flawless 68 contained an eagle on the fourth and vital birdies on the 17th and 18th to keep the former world number one in the hunt for a third victory in four years.
“It was very important to make those birdies because every time I looked at the leaderboard Thomas had made another one,” Donald said. “I did not want him to get too far ahead of me and it was important to be in the last group tomorrow.
In contrast to Donald, McIlroy has never enjoyed a good record at Wentworth and missed the cut in each of the last two years. The 25-year-old also began the week by announcing he had called off his wedding to tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, but admitted being inside the ropes for five hours a day had almost come as a welcome release.
“I was a little disappointed I didn’t make a birdie at the last but after the start I had, 69 is a good score,” said McIlroy, who twice visited sand on the first before thinning his third shot over the green.
“I feel like a low round is in me but I don’t know if it’s going to be good enough. I need to go out and shoot something similar to what Thomas did on the opening day (a course record 62).
“I’ve had big leads and let them slip, and come from behind and won. There’s a lot of ways to win. Eighteen holes of golf is still a long way to go and if the conditions are favourable, then you never know what can happen.”
The trans-Atlantic battle to be world number one will go down to the wire after Sweden’s Henrik Stenson recovered from being three over par after 10 holes to card a third round of 71.
Stenson, who needs to better Adam Scott’s performance in the Crowne Plaza Invitational on the PGA Tour, goes into the final round in a share of seventh on six under par, while Scott was joint 10th after completing a 66 at Colonial.