Colin Montgomerie is closing in on the European crown despite a disappointing end to his third round at Valderrama.
GB&Ire unless stated
-10 C Montgomerie, S Garcia (Sp),
-6 P Broadhurst, P McGinley, I Poulter, L Westwood
-5 JM Olazabal (Spa)
-4 M Campbell (NZ), O'Hern (Aus)
-1 G McDowell
The Scot bogeyed the 14th and double bogeyed the 17th after finding the water to end the day on 10 under, tied with playing partner Sergio Garcia.
Michael Campbell, the only golfer who can deprive Monty of the European Order of Merit, closed the gap from eight to six shots after a third-round 68.
But Monty, who tees off again at 1020 GMT, insisted. "I'm doing my job fine."
Montgomerie, who fired an opening 67 on Thursday and was two ahead of the field after following up with a 66, continued to look in total command as he covered all but the final five holes in four under par.
His late hiccup at the 536-yard 17th - where he laid up but then hit his third fat and into the water - allowed Garcia, who birdied three of the last four holes, to draw level.
But Monty, who finished the day with a one-under par 70, was unconcerned.
"I'm very proud of what I am doing. Scoring under par was a very good effort. As I said, this isn't easy and it's proving it.
"There's nothing wrong with my game. It's just that Sergio had a great finish."
Campbell's chances of overhaulling Montgomerie appear to be fading but the New Zealander was not prepared to concede defeat yet.
"Kiwis don't surrender. I'll give it my best shot. Eighteen holes is a lot and the 17th green is brutal. I had 90 yards and was worried."
If Campbell were to win the £450,445 first prize in the elite event, which is restricted to Europe's top 60, he would overhaul Montgomerie in the final standings.
If the 36-year-old finishes second, Montgomerie, 42, must tie with him to land the title.
If Campbell comes third, fourth or fifth, Montgomerie must finish eighth, 22nd or 54th respectively to deny him.
Montgomerie will return to the world's top 10 by winning the tournament and, having fallen as low as 83rd only nine months ago, that achievement would rival capturing the Order of Merit title again six years after he last topped it.
"That's fine. We'll talk about that if and when it happens," he added.
Four players - Paul McGinley, who had the best round of the day with a 65, Lee Westwood (67), Paul Broadhurst (67) and defending champion Ian Poulter - are tied for third, four adrift of Montgomerie and Garcia.
Poulter, who after sharing the lead on day one and being only two adrift at halfway, fell four behind with a 72, in part due to a bogey six on the 11th - his second at the same hole in two days.
His hopes of maintaining his record of at least one win every year on the European tour since he qualified at the fourth attempt in 1999 look to be fading.