THIRD ROUND LEADERBOARD:
-15 L Westwood (Eng) -13 R McGowan (Eng), -10 R McIlroy (NI), P Harrington (Ire), A Noren (Swe) -9 S Garcia (Spa), G Ogilvy (Aus)
Selected others: -8 A Scott (Aus) -7 B Dredge (Wal), R Goosen (SA) -3 I Poulter (Eng), O Wilson (Eng) -2 R Fisher (Eng)
Westwood has the edge on both McGowan and McIlroy
Lee Westwood put himself in pole position to become European number one after Rory McIlroy ended poorly on day three of the Dubai World Championship.
England's Westwood shot 66 to reach 15 under, two clear of countryman Ross McGowan, as McIlroy bogeyed the last three holes for a 69 and 10 under.
McIlroy, 20, leads Westwood by £114,000 in the money list but the Englishman will pip him with victory in Dubai.
Padraig Harrington (69) and Swede Alexander Noren (67) are also 10 under.
"I've had the highs, I've had the lows (he slumped outside the world's top 250 in 2002) and I am back on a high. I'm enjoying it," said Westwood.
"This is as good as I feel like I've swung it almost all year and when I was winning a lot - in the last century! - I had this kind of attitude.
"I would not be outwardly cocky, but I am just being more confident. I've had 30 wins and I think I've finished tournaments off more than anybody else on the leaderboard.
"I don't mind putting myself up there to be shot at. You back your ability."
He added: "There's nothing too secretive or illegal I'm doing, but why talk about it?
"It's of nobody's importance apart from Billy (his caddie Billy Foster) and mine.
"I'm paying no attention to the Race to Dubai (money list). All I am concerned about is this tournament.
"I've told you that all week and I'm proving that's the way to go about things."
McIlroy caught Westwood, the European number one in 2000, with birdies on 14 and 15 but the world number five made an 18-footer for birdie to regain the lead at 14 before the Northern Irishman imploded.
Trying to become the youngest Tour number one since Seve Ballesteros in 1976, McIlroy got a flyer with a pitching wedge from the rough on 16 and from 170 yards out hit the ball over the green.
I always saw myself reaching the top of the game. It's just one step at a time, just keep going past the milestones
The ball came to rest inches from the water and, after taking off his right shoe and sock, he missed the 15-foot putt coming back.
He then three-putted the short 17th and dumped his third shot to the 620-yard last into the water en route to a bogey six.
"It just a bad shot," he said. "I got myself in the position I wanted to be in. After that finish I've left myself an uphill task.
"But I've still got a shot a shot to win this - I feel a low round is in me and I feel it's necessary. The guys ahead of me are playing well."
McGowan, who won his first Tour title in Madrid last month after a third-round 60, was in great form again as he turned in 31.
"Lee and I got into a good rhythm early on and kept it going all day," he said.
"I think Madrid taught me a lot. I was seven shots clear there and it's tough to keep your concentration, but once you've done it a couple of times it's not really anything to worry about.
"I always saw myself reaching the top of the game. It's just one step at a time, just keep going past the milestones and we'll get there in the end."
German Martin Kaymer and Ross Fisher look out of the money list race after rounds of 72 and 70 respectively.
They are in a tie for 36th on two under, but just to have a chance Kaymer has to finish in the top four and Fisher either first or second.