|Woods said he was 'still in the game' after recovering from a poor start to the third round in Dubai [GALLO/GETTY]
Tiger Woods was just one stroke behind the Dubai Desert Classic third-round leaders after a rollercoaster even-par 72 in gusting winds left him in contention to end a 14-month wait for victory.
Dane Anders Hansen, South African Thomas Aiken and Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy led the way on eight-under 208, with 14-times major winner Woods one of seven players on 209.
World number one Lee Westwood was back on 211.
Woods started slowly by bogeying the first two holes and double-bogeying the ninth on Saturday.
But an eagle at the par-five 10th reignited the twice Dubai champion's title charge.
"It was a tough day but if I got even-par I figured that would be a good goal," the world number three said.
"I'm only one back, still right there in the ball game."
World number two Martin Kaymer, who entered the event with hopes of replacing Westwood at the top of the rankings, struggled in the wind and posted a four-over 76 for an even-par total of 216.
McIlroy struggled badly throughout the day but by the end of it he was still ahead in a three-way tie for the lead.
The 21-year-old Ulsterman, who led by one overnight, had a nightmare start with a hat-trick of bogeys.
But he gradually steadied the ship and with his main rivals for the title all finding it hard to cope with the blustery winds and firm greens, he parred the last six holes for a three over 75.
That saw him share the lead at eight under with Hansen and Aiken.
The day had been billed as a showdown between tournament leader McIlroy and a charging and back-to-form Woods, but it was the 31-year-old Spaniard Sergio Garcia who stole the show early on.
Seeking a first win in more that two years, he regained his composure after an opening bogey, his first of the week, and by the turn two birdies had given him the outright lead as both McIlroy and Woods struggled in the windy conditions.
The young Briton, the champion here two years ago, bogeyed his first three holes to surrender the lead, while the 35-year-old American, winner in 2006 and 2008, bogeyed the first two.
With Aiken, joint second overnight, hanging on, Garcia pulled three shots clear at one stage, but bogeys at the 11th and 12th brought him back to the field.
A birdie at 13 restored a two-stroke lead for the former world number two, whose ranking has slumped to 79th, but a poor back nine where he had a double bogey and five bogeys saw him fold back into the pack jamming the top of the leaderboard.