Thailand's Thaworn Thaworn, a 15-time Asian Tour winner, signaled his intent of capturing his second Order of Merit crown by storming home with four birdies in his closing five holes to stay one back of Mardan with his three-day total of 16-under-par 200 at the Singha Park Khon Kaen Golf Club.
Thailand's Pariya Junhasavadikul remained on course for his second Asian Tour win when he returned with a 66 to take third place while Spanish rookie Javi Colomo signed for a 65 to share fourth place with Thailand's Arnond Vongvanij, Piya Swangarunporn and defending champion Udorn Duangdecha on 202.
It was the battle of the 45-year-olds as Mardan and Thaworn hogged the limelight at the King's Cup which is the third last event of the 2012 Asian Tour Schedule.
Mardan knew that he had to remain calm after he could only manage to make the turn in one-under.
Two birdies on the 10th and 11th holes soon restored that much-needed confidence for Singapore's number one golfer who then went on to birdie three of his last four holes.
"I tried to be patient in my front-nine and then I started off well with two birdies in my back-nine. That gave me lots of confidence," said Mardan.
The Singaporean is well aware of Thaworn's title credentials and is pleased he will head into the final round holding a slender one-shot advantage.
"I saw Thaworn who was 15-under, going into the last hole and when I heard the roars from the galleries on the 18th, I knew he made a birdie there to go to 16-under," said Mardan.
"It was a good round for him. It's going to be tough to beat this old guy here. So if you can get a one-stroke advantage, you got to take it because he can shoot a low number anytime," added Mardan.
Trailing overnight leader Supakorn Utaipat of Thailand by four shots, Thaworn showed that he can never be written off as he continued his charge for his fourth Asian Tour win this season as well as the Order of Merit title which he first won in 2005.
Starting the round in tied-11th place, Thaworn made his move with birdies on holes two, four and eight to turn in 33.
He birdied the 10th before dropping his lone bogey on the 13th. After making a par on the 14th, Thaworn then stormed home with four birdies.
"It will be a close fight till the end but I'm feeling confident. I've been in this position many times and I know how to handle the pressure," said Thaworn.
"This was the best I've played so far this week and so long as I believe in myself, I can win again," added the Thai veteran.
Meanwhile Colomo is also determined to end his week with a flourish after carding rounds of 65, 72 and 65.
"I'm feeling positive about tomorrow and will fight for a victory. I've been playing really well the last three days. Only yesterday, I didn't have much luck on the greens. But today, I hit many good shots to the flag and managed to make several long birdie putts," said Colomo.
Colomo is also delighted with how his debut season is turning out especially after enjoying three top-10 finishes on the Asian Tour this season.
"Players usually want more and more but as for myself, it has been a fantastic season for me. The standards are very high on the Tour with many good players and to have such good results in my first year is simply fantastic," said the 28-year-old Spaniard.
The King's Cup is making its return after a year's absence following the floods in Thailand last year and is already enjoying a welcome revival with its prize fund increasing to US$500,000 this year.
Leading scores after round 3 of the King's Cup being played at the par 72, 7418 Yards Singha Park course (a- denotes amateur):
199 - Mardan MAMAT (SIN) 63-70-66.
200 - Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA) 69-66-65.
201 - Pariya JUNHASAVASDIKUL (THA) 66-69-66.
202 - Javi COLOMO (ESP) 65-72-65, Arnond VONGVANIJ (THA) 65-70-67, Piya SWANGARUNPORN (THA) 70-65-67, Udorn DUANGDECHA (THA) 65-68-69.
203 - Kiradech APHIBARNRAT (THA) 67-68-68, Wade ORMSBY (AUS) 71-63-69, LIN Wen-tang (TPE) 66-68-69.
204 - Thammanoon SRIROJ (THA) 70-66-68, Prom MEESAWAT (THA) 65-69-70, Elmer SALVADOR (PHI) 68-66-70.
205 - Thongchai JAIDEE (THA) 67-69-69, Boonchu RUANGKIT (THA) 67-67-71