Paul Casey shot a 6-under 66 and Peter Hanson had a 67 on Saturday to share the third-round lead in the Volvo Champions.
Casey finished a bogey-free round and Hanson dropped just one shot — on his first hole. They were at 16-under 200, while Darren Clarke (67) and James Kingston (67) were another shot back.
The leading eight players were separated by only three shots in the new European Tour event in Bahrain.
Casey and Hanson shrugged off slow starts and made many birdies in the middle portion of the Colin Montgomerie-designed Royal Golf Club course. They both missed putts from inside 5 feet on the final hole.
Miguel Angel Jimenez, back with a new putter after breaking it in two midway through the second round, was in fifth place at 202 after a 69. Another stroke back were Italian teenager Matteo Manassero (66), Johan Edfors (68) and Stephen Gallacher (69).
Casey will try for his first win since the 2009 BMW PGA Championship.
"I just need to play like I did today," the No. 9-ranked Casey said. "I gave myself lots of opportunities."
Hanson, who was bedridden this week with the flu, said he's nearly recovered.
"I have to say I'm very happy with the way I fought myself around this course, and my putting," he said. "I made some really good putts today during the turn there, so I'm really feeling good standing over a putter."
American Todd Hamilton shot a bogey-free 64, which matched the course record. The 2004 British Open champion lost his card on the U.S. PGA Tour last season and made use of his 10-year exemption on the European Tour for winning the Open at Royal Troon.
The 45-year-old Hamilton made four birdies in each half of the course.
"I have been hitting the ball well, and the only difference today was that I could take advantage of my good shots and convert them," he said. "The greens were very receptive and also still pretty slow. The course here reminds me of Palm Springs."