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Sunday, 05 August 2018
Oliver Wilson (credit Goran Soderqvist)  (European Tour)
Oliver Wilson (credit Goran Soderqvist) (European Tour)

Oliver Wilson overcame Joachim B. Hansen in a dramatic two-hole play-off to win the Swedish Challenge hosted by Robert Karlsson after the pair were tied on 13 under par after 72 holes at Katrineholms Golfklubb.

Hansen looked to have secured his third win of the European Challenge Tour season as he approached the final green but three-putted for a bogey while Wilson safely converted a par to ensure the destination of the Swedish Challenge trophy would be decided by extra holes.

Playing the final round in the same group, the duo tussled throughout as they both posted closing rounds of 68. Overnight leader Max Orrin agonisingly missed out on making it a three-man play-off as his 25-foot birdie putt lipped out and he was forced to settle for par and a level par 72.

With both Wilson and Hansen recording pars on the first extra hole, Wilson held his nerve on the second as he played an intelligent approach shot from the rough to the edge of the green before successfully two-putting for par.

Wilson, part of the 2008 European Ryder Cup team, was visibly delighted to secure a first victory in four years after what he describes as a ‘hard few years’.

“I’m absolutely delighted, I really am,” he said. “It was hard. The last few years have been hard and I battled well today. I didn’t have my A game, for sure, but I got off to a good start and it was a good battle between me and JB.

“I was delighted to get a putt on the last to tie with JB because I’ve holed nothing today. Just to get the job done, it means a lot. There’s a long way to go on my journey but this is definitely a big step in the right direction.

“I hung in there over the last few days and that probably means more to me now that I feel like I’ve got it done without my A game over the weekend, so it’s all going in the right direction.”

Despite winning the 2014 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, Wilson has been struggling with his game for the last six years and admits to falling out of love with golf.

However Wilson, from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, credits the last four months of solid play for being able to enjoy golf again.

“The last three or four months have been crucial,” he said. “Without those three or four months, I probably wouldn’t be playing because I wasn’t in love with the game, I didn’t have the answers and I was struggling.

“I couldn’t get it on the fairways, I couldn’t even play – I couldn’t get it round the golf course. Last year was a bit better but it wasn’t good enough and it didn’t really give me any belief that I could get back to where I wanted to be.

“I haven’t played a tournament yet where I feel like I’ve put it all together but it’s certainly going in the right direction and I’m back in love with the game. It’s on an upward trend but I’m well aware that there’s still a long way to go to get to where I want to get to.”

And where does Wilson want to get to? Although he admits it’s a long way off, he has his eyes on returning to the top 100 in the world.

“I want to get even better than where I was before,” he said. “Right now, this is fantastic. It gives me a category where I can plan a bit more for the end of the season and make some decisions, but I’ve got to keep playing well.

“I want to try and put it all together, put four rounds together where I walk off the course and I’m happy every day.

“I want to get back on the European Tour, keep my card and keep building to try and get back in the top 100 in the world. That’s a long way off right now – I think these might be the first World Ranking points I’ve earned since 2014!”

Despite his play-off defeat, Road to Ras Al Khaimah Number One Hansen strengthens his grip on top spot by extending the gap to over 60,000 points from Lorenzo Gagli, while Wilson moves to 26th place in the Rankings, less than 13,000 points away from the top 15.

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