Ireland’s Shane Lowry remains on course to claim the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship as he tops the scoreboard heading into the final round.

Lowry, who had hit a course record-equalling 62 on day one, followed that up with a second-round of 70 before hitting a five under-par 67 on Friday.

That leaves him on 17 under and three shots clear of South Africa’s Richard Sterne, who matched third-placed man Ian Poulter in carding a 69 for his third round.

Poulter is two shots further back, with Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal also in contention in fourth, six shots behind Lowry.

As he had on Thursday, Lowry started slowly and dropped a shot on the fourth to momentarily lose his outright lead of the £5.4million tournament.

He recovered to birdie six, seven and eight but an eagle for Sterne on the par-five 10th kept him close enough to pounce if Lowry slips up on Saturday.

Poulter, meanwhile, remains in with a slim chance of victory as he adjusts his preparations after a long-haul flight to the United Arab Emirates.

“I haven’t hit any balls after the round and I haven’t done what I would normally do,” he told europeantour.com.

“So I’ve been resting up a lot and hopefully that helps tomorrow. To finish with a three is great and, you know, hopefully I can have a little run up the board tomorrow.

Ian Poulter remains in the running after an impressive third round.Ian Poulter remains in the running after an impressive third round. (Owen Humphreys/PA)

“It was a good sleep last night. I haven’t felt too bad so I think I’ve kind of got over most of the jet lag.”

While Poulter remains in the running, fellow Englishman Lee Westwood fired a round of 71 to drop out of contention on nine under overall, with Scotland’s Scott Jamieson tied for fifth, one shot clear of Westwood.