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Friday, 10 August 2012
Oliver Wilson   (Getty Images)
Oliver Wilson (Getty Images)

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  • Alvaro Velasco

Former Ryder Cup player Oliver Wilson carded the lowest round of his professional career as the Englishman’s stunning ten under par 62 moved him into the tied lead, alongside Alvaro Velasco, going into the weekend at the Norwegian Challenge.

Velasco, who was the overnight leader after the first day, matched his opening round of 65 to move into a two-way tie for the lead on 14 under par but it was his English compatriot who stole the show earlier in the day after a two hour rain delay at Byneset GK, near Trondheim.

While Wilson has never won on the European circuit, he has recorded nine runner-up finishes on The European Tour and took one step closer to that elusive victory after getting off to a flyer in Norway.

The 31 year old, who beat Phil Mickelson and Anthony Kim alongside Henrik Stenson in the foursomes at The 2008 Ryder Cup, birdied four of the first five holes before another gained 

He picked up another shot at the 12th and Wilson did admit that, midway through a run of four successive birdies starting at the 14th, the magic number of 59 did flash through his mind but despite missing that opportunity, he was delighted with the round.

“I just played great,” said Wilson, who has been on consistent form recently on both tours, recording two top 20 finishes in his last two European Tour appearances. “There are a few tees up today and I drove it well and was in play from every tee, which helps.

“My iron play has been good and I putted well. Even though the course has been reduced in length slightly after the rain, you still have to hole putts and you feel like you’re under pressure to do so, because everyone will be shooting low scores, but I did everything I needed to do.

“At one point I was thinking about the magic number, with the par five 17th coming up, but I counted it all up and realised I had probably run out of holes. I had a 15 footer for eagle at 17 but even if that went in I’d have had to have an eagle at the (par four) last but it’s the closest I've ever come.

“It’s my lowest round as a professional so happy days. I really didn’t hit a bad shot.”

Playing in the final group of the day, Velasco needed something big to keep in touch with the lead after Wilson’s emergence and the Spaniard got off to a stunning start, birdieing the opening four holes.

Two bogeys and another birdie meant the 2010 Challenge Tour Rankings winner reached the turn in three under and he remained four shots back stepping on to the 12th tee before embarking on a run of three consecutive birdies thereafter.

That put him within one shot of the lead and he showed he was well up for the fight with a birdie at the par four 16th to move to the top.

“I had a great start and struggled a little bit for a few holes but then I started playing perfect so it was a great round for me,” said the 31 year old.

“I think I played more solid than the first day. The putter is working nicely and I was straighter off the tee.

“I didn’t actually see the leaderboard so I didn’t know what Oliver had done earlier. I just wanted to play my own game, even though I usually like to see the scores, but at the moment I'm in a position where I just need to focus on my own game and do my best no matter what anyone else does.”

One shot off the lead in second place was Kristoffer Broberg, who boosted his hopes of a second win in as many weeks after the Swede claimed a surprise maiden victory at the Finnish Challenge last week in just his second appearance on the European Challenge Tour, winning by an impressive six shots.

The 26 year old carded ten birdies on the way to his eight under par round of 64 and moved to 13 under to continue his incredible rise to prominence.

Local boy Elias Bertheussen was the highest placed Norwegian going into the weekend after another four under par round of 68 moved him to eight under for the tournament and six shots off the pace.

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