Oliver Wilson holds a one stroke advantage over defending champion Bradley Dredge going into the weekend of the Omega European Masters in what is shaping up to be a battle to make The Seve Trophy team.
Wilson, seeking his maiden European Tour title after two second places this season, added a five under 66 par to the 65 he completed earlier by picking up three strokes in his four remaining holes at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club.
His 11 under par 131 target left the 26 year old Englishman one clear of Welshman Dredge, who birdied three of his last five holes, including the tough par three 16th for a second successive 66.
Australian Brett Rumford, who also shot a 66, is two shots further adrift at eight under par with England’s Phillip Archer, another to shoot a five under par round, a further shot back.
Wilson can fulfil three requirements should he prevail on Sunday - achieve a first victory in his third season, get a fast start in the opening counting event for European Ryder Cup points and put himself in line for a Seve Trophy place.
The former Walker Cup player is conscious that victory could mean a spot in Nick Faldo's Great Britain and Ireland team which takes on Europe in The Seve Trophy later this month.
"The Ryder Cup's a long way away but I'd love to play in The Seve Trophy," Wilson said.
"I've not played a team event since I was an amateur and I feel if I make it then it will be a reward for my season and a next step up in my career."
But Wilson needs to overtake Dredge and Nick Dougherty by the end of next week's Mercedes Benz Championship in Cologne to play for Faldo, who also captains The 2008 Ryder Cup Team.
"If I did make The Seve Trophy team, it will be great experience if I was to make The Ryder Cup," said Wilson.
Dredge is also aware of the added spice of the race to make The Seve Trophy and is determined too keep Wilson in his sights.
“Oli is just behind me in The Seve Trophy so I can’t let him get too far ahead,” said Dredge. “Nick Dougherty is in the last spot and his is about €34,000 behind me. Oli Wilson is just behind him. It is going to be good competition for this weekend and next weekend to get the last spots.”
Dredge has twice come close to winning this year, in the Irish Open at Adare Manor where he lost a play-off to Padraig Harrington, and at the Celtic Manor Wales Open, where he was denied a home victory by Richard Sterne. He has now set his sights on winning before the year out and the fact he won so convincingly at Crans-sur-Sierre gives him confidence to get the job done.
“The golf course suits me and I can see a low score round here,” said Dredge. “I have managed to get it round in two good scores and I need to keep doing that, maybe hit my irons a little better, but the win last year gives me a lot of confidence that I can get it done on the weekend round here.
Elsewhere there was great excitement as first Alessandro Tadini of Italy made a hole-in-one on the third hole. The 33 year old holed a six iron from 197 yards and won a one kilo gold ingot from sponsors Credit Suisse, valued at CH26,0000 approximately.
And another stroke of brilliance followed later in the morning when the 16 year old Hawaiian, Tadd Fujikawa, concluded his European Tour debut with a spectacular albatross on his final hole. Faced with 285 yards on the 632 yard par five ninth, Fujikawa struck the perfect three wood into the hole. Although he missed the cut, he meant he will take away happy memories of his first visit to Europe, as well as a new Omega “Double Eagle” watch, courtesy of the title sponsors.
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