Saturday, 09 March 2019
Oliver Wilson  (Getty Images)
Oliver Wilson (Getty Images)

Oliver Wilson will take a one shot lead into the final round of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters as he seeks the second great comeback of his European Tour career.

The Englishman had nine second place finishes between 2006 and 2009 as he became a Ryder Cup player but lost his card in 2011 before winning the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on an invite three years later.

He is once again without playing privileges this season and was the last man into this event but, after rounds of 69-68-69 with just a single bogey, he will enter Sunday at ten under with his first 54 hole lead since that win in Scotland.

Australian Nick Cullen, Spaniard Nacho Elvira, Frenchman Mike Lorenzo-Vera and South African Erik van Rooyen were then nine under at a windy Doha Golf Club, with 31 players separated by five shots.

Jake McLeod made the second hole-in-one of the week and fifth of the season on the third as he moved to eight under alongside fellow Australian Min Woo Lee, Belgian Thomas Detry and Swede Anton Karlsson.

Wilson won twice last season on the European Challenge Tour but agonisingly finished 17th in the Rankings, and a win this week would write another chapter in his remarkable golfing story.

"I'm delighted quite frankly, it's hard out there," he said. "It's really hard to get it close even from the fairways with the wind.

"There's still a long way to go but it's going in the right direction. It's nice to be back in the mix. I didn't play very well today, I struggled a little bit, I didn't feel comfortable with my swing but I managed to keep it in play and hit some good shots when I needed to.

"The last four holes I suddenly found something and hit good shots all the way in. Maybe it's a bit of maturity or something, I don't know, but I'm really pleased that I allowed that to happen. Sometimes it's easy to lose your head a little bit."

There were 48 players separated by five shots at the start of the day and when the later groups got under way, there was quickly a seven way tie for the lead.

Detry eagled the par five first from 12 feet to be among that group but he was the first to break out of it with a 20 foot birdie on the third.

Wilson joined him with birdies on the second and fourth but dropped a shot on the next and when the 38-year-old turned, he was part of an eight way tie for the lead.

Detry birdied the tenth and 11th to lead by two but bogeys on the 13th and 14th meant Wilson was part of a seven way logjam at eight under.

Cullen was part of that after turning in 36 and picking up shots on the tenth, 12th and 16th, and an 18 foot putt on the penultimate hole put him in the clubhouse at nine under.

Van Rooyen had also turned in level par and he joined the lead with birdies on the 14th and 15th, with playing partner Wilson joining him from eight feet.

Elvira - who made his first cut in six 2019 events this week - then birdied the 16th and 18th to add to gains on the first and third and a bogey on the 11th, before Lorenzo-Vera made it a five way tie with a big late charge.

The 34-year-old was six under with five to play after back to back bogeys but birdied the 15th, got up and down on the driveable next after hitting a car on the left with his tee shot, and holed from ten feet on the 17th.

Wilson was over the back of the par five 18th in two but played a lovely third to set up a birdie and edge ahead.

McLeod's 66 matched the lowest round of the day, while Lee signed for a 76 and Detry and Karlsson both recorded rounds of 70.

Adri Arnaus, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Jorge Campilo, George Coetzee, Bradley Dredge, Justin Harding and Kurt Kitayama were three shots off the lead.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1HARDING, JustinRSA18-13
T2CHOI, JinhoKOR18-11
T2COETZEE, GeorgeRSA18-11
T2BEZUIDENHOUT, ChristiaanRSA18-11

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