Oliver Wilson took a giant step towards a first European Tour title in five years after the Englishman carded an impressive three under par 69 to take a one stroke lead into the final round of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
Wilson, who doesn’t currently hold a European Tour card after losing his playing privileges in 2016, started strongly with two birdies in his opening five holes before dropping his first shot of the week at the par four fifth. The 2008 Ryder Cup star then carded nine consecutive pars before picking up two more shots on his last four holes to take the outright lead on ten under par at Doha Golf Club.
“I’m delighted quite frankly, it was really hard out there,” said the 38 year old, who will regain his European Tour playing privileges with a triumph. “It’s really hard to get the ball close to the pin, even from the fairways it’s a real task due to the wind. I’m pleased with what I’ve done so far; I’m just trying to keep in play off the tee and hit it to the middle of the green. It’s so windy that you know no one is really going to get away from you too much so you’ve just got to plod your way around the course and try and pick up a few shots on the way.
“There’s still a long way to go but I’m going in the right direction. I didn’t play very well today but hit some good shots when it was needed because I was patient. The last four holes I suddenly found something and played nicely all the way in. Maybe that’s down to maturity but I’m really pleased that I allowed that to happen. It’s nice to put myself back in contention.”
Nick Cullen, Nacho Elvira, Mike Lorenzo-Vera and Erik Van Rooyen sit one off the lead to share second place, with Cullen shooting the best round of the quartet with a four under par 68. The Australian walked off the 15th at level par for the day but picked up a birdie on the 16th before a superb eagle on the last put him in the mix at the spectacular Peter Harradine designed course.
“It was pretty breezy out there today which made it pretty tricky to hit some clubs,” said Cullen, who secured his European Tour card at Qualifying School at the end of last year. “I’m trying to forget about swing mechanics and just play a bit more golf and focussing on hitting shots. It’s perfect that I’m in contention as that’s exactly where I want to be and what I’ve been working towards. Hopefully I can have a good round tomorrow and put myself in the mix.”
Anton Karlsson, Thomas Detry and Australian duo Min Woo Lee Jack McLeod all sit two off the lead in tied sixth. It was a day to remember for McLeod, who carded a highly impressive six under par 66 which included four birdies and two eagles – one of which was a sublime hole-in-one on the third.
Last week’s Oman Open winner, Kurt Kitayama, put himself in contention for a third European Tour title of the season after carding a two under par under par 70 to share tenth place with Bradley Dredge, Jorge Campillo, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Adri Arnaus, George Coetzee and Justin Harding on seven under par.