Oliver Wilson takes a one-stroke lead into the final round of the UBS Hong Kong Open as the Englishman looks to end his elusive search for a first European Tour victory.
The 28 year old has finished runner-up on The European Tour on no less than eight occasions since becoming a professional in 2005 and most recently lost out in a play-off to Sergio Garcia at the HSBC Champions.
But he put himself in prime position for victory in Hong Kong after carding a five under par 65 for a 13 under total of 197 and a one stroke lead over Chinese Taipei's Lin Wen-tang who carded a six under par 64.
Five times this year alone, Wilson has finished runner-up but once again he is knocking on the door and sooner or later it will open. Victory will not only end Wilson’s long overdue wait but also propel the Ryder Cup player to the top of The Race to Dubai ahead of his well-earned six week Christmas break.
Wilson will have to be at his best tomorrow, however, after a stunning performance by Germany’s Bernhard Langer.
The two-time Masters Champion and victorious Ryder Cup Captain in 2004 shot a seven under par 63 and lies just two strokes behind Wilson at 11 under.
Wilson had started the third round in a four-way tie for the lead and though he dropped a shot on the first when he three putted, he was quickly back in his stride as he fired two successive birdies from the sixth to reach the turn at one under par.
Birdies on the tenth, 13th and 14th saw him move back into a share of the lead before Wilson holed a 15-foot putt on the 17th to take sole lead.
“I am very happy with today,” he said. “Like I keep saying, if I can keep getting up there, I'll break through eventually, but each time I'm getting up there, I'm learning something. It's important tomorrow to try not to think about winning. There's a bit of a logjam really at the top of the leaderboard. I didn't look exactly, but there's a lot of people within one, two, three shots. And it's the type of course where if you get hot, you can really take it deep.
“It will need a good round tomorrow but I’ll just keep doing what I am doing and hopefully it will be enough.”
Hot on his heels though is Langer, whose start did little to suggest such an impressive display was on the cards as the 51 year old teed off into the bunker on the par four first before putting for a bogey.
He birdied the sixth, hitting a seven iron from a fairway bunker, and then picked up a superb eagle on the par four seventh, when he went even better than his recovery of the previous hole by holing a seven iron having again put his tee shot into a bunker.
Langer picked up another shot on the par-three eighth and made par on the ninth to reach the turn at three under for the day and eight under for the tournament.
And he stormed up the leaderboard with a superb run coming home, carding five birdies - including four successive from the 13th - to ensure he is well placed for the final round.
“It was kind of a strange day,” said Langer. “It is always great top be up on the leaderboard and it is always great to be in contention.
“That is what we practice for and what we work for; to have a good chance on Sunday afternoon to win a tournament.”
It should be no surprise to see the 1991 UBS Hong Kong Open champion near the top of the leaderboard after four wins this year - once on the European Senior Tour, in the Czech Republic, and three times on the US Champions Tour - on the way to topping their money list.
And after the tournament saw 14 year old Jason Hak become the youngest player to make a cut in a European Tour event, Langer has a chance of setting a record of becoming the oldest player to win on The European Tour, surpassing the record of Des Smyth, who was 48 and 34 days when he won the 2001 Madeira Island Open.
Back to the teenagers and 19 year old Rory McIlroy is amongst a group four players tied fourth at ten under after the Northern Irishman shot a four-under-par 66 with Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Pablo Larrazabal on the same mark. After two successive Spanish victories in the event, by Miguel Angel Jiménez last year and José Manuel Lara the year before, Larrazabal will be striving to make it a hat-trick after his round of 64.
India’s Jeev Milkha Singh is continuing the rich form which helped him win last week in Singapore, shooting a 66, and Italy’s Francesco Molinari completed the quartet on ten under with a round of 67.
And don’t discount Colin Montgomerie, the 2005 Champion, with the Scot a stroke further behind following a 68 and only four off the lead.