THIRD ROUND LEADERBOARD (GB & Ireland unless stated): -12 I Poulter -10 F Molinari (Ita), T Jaidee (Thai), R Fisher -9 R Karlsson (Swe), L Westwood Selected others: -8 P Casey -7 R McIlroy -6 M Kaymer -2 G McDowell -1 D Clarke
McDowell is in a share of 30th place going into the final round in Dubai
Graeme McDowell's hopes of being crowned Europe's number one receded further after he shot a 69 in his third round at the Dubai World Championship.
McDowell is two under and in a share of 30th - 10 behind Ian Poulter who is two ahead of Ross Fisher, Francesco Molinari and Thongchai Jaidee.
The US Open winner needs a top-three finish to have any chance of passing Race to Dubai leader Martin Kaymer.
The German was six under after a 73 which included a closing double bogey.
Kaymer is in a share of 11th place going into the final round after dropping four shots in his closing six holes at the Jumeirah Golf Estates course.
Rory McIlroy moved into contention for a high finish as he fired a seven-birdie 66 which put the 21-year-old on seven under.
Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell talk to BBC Sport NI's Gavin Andrews after the third round of the Dubai World Championship
McDowell would overtake the German in the Order of Merit by winning the tournament or ending up alone in second as long as Kaymer finishes no higher than a tie for third.
If McDowell is tied for second, Kaymer could afford to finish as low as sixth while third place would only be enough for the Northern Irishman if the German finished outside the top 20.
However, amid all the permutations McDowell acknowledged after his round on Saturday that his Race to Dubai hopes were probably over.
"Barring the impossible, I think Europe's number one is probably not a reality for me anymore," McDowell said.
"Unless I shoot 55 tomorrow, which unless one of you boys comes and putts for me tomorrow, I don't think will happen.
"You know he (Kaymer) is going to win the Race to Dubai tomorrow and he's the best.
"He's been one of the best players in the world this year and certainly deserves everything he has achieved."
McDowell's comments came before Kaymer late collapse on Saturday but barring an astonishing final round by the Ryder Cup hero, the German appears to have the European number one spot in the bag.
The 25-year-old German's wobble has severely reduced his chances of taking the world number one spot from England's Lee Westwood, who is in a share of fifth place at the 'Earth' course after a 71 on Saturday.
Poulter, joint leader overnight on nine under alongside Ross Fisher, moved three shots clear of the field after two early birdies but his first bogey of the week on the fifth, after a three-putt, and another dropped shot on 10 left him level at that stage with Fisher, Kaymer and Jaidee.
However, birdies and the 14th and 15th moved Poulter ahead again and he was helped by Fisher's bogey six at the final hole.
Molinari moved into contention by producing three successive birdies from the 15th while first-round Robert Karlsson moved back into contention by firing a 67 which moved him to nine under alongside Westwood.
A double bogey at the short sixth halted Paul Casey's momentum as he fired a 71 for eight under alongside Alvaro Quiros while McIlroy was a further shot back with Open champion Louis Oosthuizen.
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