Graeme McDowell holds nerve in ‘brutal’ conditions to take one shot lead into final round at Saudi International

Jeddah Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell will take a one-shot lead into the final round of the Saudi International powered by Softbank Investment Advisers, following an entertaining third round that saw some of the world's leading players make their move at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club.

McDowell's four under round of 66, taking him to -12, started in steady fashion with a level-par front nine but he showed his class and tenacity around the turn with brutal winds and challenging pin positions testing the whole field.

Sparked into life by a 20ft par-saving putt on the 9th, McDowell went on a birdie-blitz, draining from the fringe on the 12th and 13th hole the former including clattering the pin, the latter a monster putt on the course's most difficult hole.

A wayward drive on 18 threatened to tarnish a terrific back nine played in Royal Greens' now infamous afternoon Red Sea winds, but the 40-year-old recovered with a sumptuous approach to six-feet from 180-yards out, before making birdie and claim the outright lead at 12-under-par heading into Sunday's final round.

McDowell will be reunited with former 2014 Ryder Cup playing partner Victor Dubuisson in Sunday's final pairing, following the Frenchman's flawless bogey-free five under 65.

Dubuisson (-11) mastered the wind superbly throughout his round making three early birdies in the first four holes to put himself in contention for a first win on tour.

Malaysia's Gavin Green was unable to hit the heights of his opening rounds of 64 and 67 but a level-par 70 on Saturday keeps him three off the lead on -9 in sole third position.

The American trio of superstars Dustin Johnson (-7), World Number 1 Brooks Koepka (-6) and legend Phil Mickelson (-6) are all ominously within touching distance of the leaders.

Defending champion Johnson started his day with a bang grabbing four consecutive birdies in the first four holes, before losing ground on the tricky back nine.

Koepka took advantage of the more benign morning conditions in his round of 65 - the joint lowest round of the day alongside Dubuisson and Ian Poulter (-5). The world's leading player's put on a driving masterclass with his putter finally getting hot after a frustrating start to the tournament.

Source: Saudi Press Agency