Luke Donald may have surrendered his supremacy in world golf to Rory McIlroy this year, but he has the chance to get the last laugh of 2012 as the duo go head to head for the final round of the European Tour season on Sunday.
The top-ranked duo remained locked at the top of the leaderboard at the $8 million World Tour Championship on Saturday, having moved three shots clear of the 56-man field in Dubai.
World No. 1 McIlroy, who emulated his Ryder Cup teammate by winning both the European and U.S. PGA Tour money lists this year, recovered from an opening bogey as he fired five birdies and an eagle in his six-under-par 66.
He is already guaranteed $1 million for winning the Race To Dubai with two events to spare, but there is also $1.35 million at stake for finishing first on Sunday.
"I think everyone is looking forward to the number one and number two duel, and that's the way it's panned out," said the 23-year-old McIlroy, who has been struggling with a fever.
"I know I'm excited about it, and I'm sure a lot of people are. It will be a great way to finish the 2012 European Tour season."
Donald has now gone 100 holes without dropping a shot at Dubai's Jumeirah Golf Estates' Earth Course following his flawless six-birdie 66.
The last player to win a tournament without carding a bogey was Jesper Parnevik in 1995.
"That's pretty good. I guess that's my style -- I don't make too many mistakes," said the 35-year-old Englishman.
"It's going to be fun -- great for the crowd and everyone watching around the world. Hopefully we can make some birdies."
Neither player has won the season-ending event, which was launched in 2009 -- when Lee Westwood triumphed to overhaul McIlroy in the money list.
They are being chased by South Africa's Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen, who carded 67 and 68 respectively on Saturday to be on 14-under 202 after three rounds.
Their compatriot Branden Grace, a four-time winner on the European Tour this year, was tied for fifth on 12 under with Dutchman Joost Luiten.
Justin Rose, third in the Race To Dubai standings, was tied for seventh on 11 under after a 69 -- one shot ahead of second-placed Swede Peter Hanson (70).