After missing the cut in the AVIV Dubai Championship, the 46-year-old from Cockburnspath had slipped from 121st - the final provisional card position - to 122nd in the Race to Dubai standings.
Ashley Chesters was the player who’d jumped above him, meaning Drysdale’s fate after holding a full card for 17 consecutive seasons was in the hands of the Englishman.
Chesters started the third round on the Fire Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates sitting in a tie for 11th, but, perhaps feeling pressure himself, the former Walker Cup player had a day to forget.
With the tone being set by two opening bogeys, he had to settle for a two-over 74, which dropped him into a share of 52nd spot on eight-under.
As a result, Drysdale is now back to 121st in the projected standings, with Chesters four spots behind and now needing a low one in the final round to climb above the Scot again.
The lead in Dubai is being shared by Dane Joachim B Hansen and Italian Francesco Laporta on 19-under, one ahead of defending champion Antoine Rozner of France.
Scottish Open champion Min Woo Lee and Tommy Fleetwood are both lurking ominously on 16-under, with Martin Kaymer and Bernd Wiesberger also in the top 10.
“All I can do is do what I did on the back nine today and try to do that for a full round,” said Fleetwood of his position after storming home in 30. “But there’s been a lot of good golf in there and I’ve got to take that into tomorrow.”
Scott Jamieson is the leading Scot on 12-under, one ahead of Bob MacIntyre, who ran up a disappointing bogey-6 at the 18th for the second time this week.
Stephen Gallacher, who is making his 600th European Tour appearance, sits on 10-under, followed by David Law and Grant Forrest on nine and eight-under respectively.
No matter how they fare in the closing circuit, MacIntyre and Forrest have already secured spots in next week’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship on the neighbouring Earth Course along with Calum Hill.