Pulheim - Home favourite Martin Kaymer was part of a six-way tie for the lead at Golf Club Gut Laerchenhof as the BMW International Open set itself up for a dramatic finish on Sunday.
The two-time major winner birdied two of his last three holes to delight the local crowds and sign for a 71 that left him alongside countryman Maximilian Kieffer, Dane Lucas Bjerregaard, Australian Scott Hend and English pair Chris Paisley and Aaron Rai at five under.
Shot Clock Masters champion Mikko Korhonen and Chilean Nico Geyger were just behind at four under, with 20 players within three shots of the lead.
Bjerregaard and Paisley took advantage of the calmer conditions earlier in the day to post rounds of 67 and 68 respectively, while Kaymer, Kieffer and Rai all signed for rounds of 71 and overnight leader Hend slipped back with a 73.
Kaymer will draw huge crowds when he goes in search of his 12th European Tour title but he is unlikely to have it all his own way, with Paisley looking for a second win of the season and Hend and Bjerregarrd going for career titles number two and three respectively.
Kaymer, the 2008 champion, had birdied the fourth but he found water on the ninth and then dropped further shots on the tenth and 12th as his chances looked to be disappearing.
The 33-year-old does not have two majors for nothing, however, and he made the most of the par five 13th, put his tee-shot to ten feet on the 16th and then holed a six-footer on the next to join the lead.
“It's always nice to be in contention, especially for me because it's been a while but the last few weeks I've played very well,” Kaymer told the European Tour’s official website. “In Italy I had a good chance but I didn't really perform on the moving day. Today I didn't need to perform as good as I thought. On top of that, winning in your own country speaks for itself.”
Leading third round scores at the BMW International Open, Golf Club Gut Laerchenhof, Pulheim, Germany on Saturday (GBR/IRL unless stated, par 72):
211 - Lucas Bjerregaard (DEN) 72 72 67, Scott Hend (AUS) 71 67 73, Maximilian Kieffer (GER) 71 69 71, Martin Kaymer (GER) 72 68 71, Chris Paisley 72 71 68, Aaron Rai 69 71 71
212 - Nico Geyger (CHI) 70 69 73, Mikko Korhonen (FIN) 71 72 69
213 - Soren Kjeldsen (DEN) 72 69 72, Matt Wallace 73 69 71, Scott Jamieson 69 74 70, Jose-Filipe Lima (POR) 73 71 69, Andrew Sullivan 71 72 70, Andres Romero (ARG) 71 75 67, Wade Ormsby (AUS) 71 71 71, Thomas Pieters (BEL) 73 69 71
214 - David Howell 70 75 69, Connor Syme 74 69 71, David Lipsky (USA) 74 71 69, Edoardo Molinari (ITA) 74 69 71
215 - Sebastien Gros (FRA) 68 72 75, Sergio Garcia (ESP) 73 71 71, Jorge Campillo (ESP) 69 75 71, David Horsey 72 72 71, Christopher Mivis (BEL) 72 75 68, Henric Sturehed (SWE) 69 70 76
219 - Tommy Fleetwood 74 74 71