Qatar Masters: Oliver Wilson closing in on win, regaining European Tour card

Qatar Masters: Oliver Wilson closing in on win, regaining European Tour card

Euro Tour

Qatar Masters: Oliver Wilson closing in on win, regaining European Tour card

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There won’t be many in European golf rooting against Oliver Wilson in the final round of the $1.75 million Qatar Masters. The Englishman can get his career back on track if he maintains his place at the top of the leaderboard.

The Augusta State grad birdied the final hole to break out of a deadlock tied for the lead. His 3-under-par 69 took him to 10 under par. He holds a one-shot lead over Australia’s Nick Cullen, Nacho Elvira of Spain, South Africa’s Erik Van Rooyen and Frenchman Mike Lorenzo-Vera.

Wilson only dropped one shot in his round, his first of the tournament, when he bogeyed the par-4 fifth hole. No wonder the 38 year old had a huge grin on his face after another good day at the office.

“I’m delighted, quite frankly,” Wilson said. “It’s quite hard out there. It’s just really hard to get it close, even from the fairways with the wind. I’m pleased at what I’ve done so far. I’m just trying to get it in play off the tee and get it in the middle of the greens, and almost two putt when it’s like this.

“It’s so windy that you know nobody is really going to go away too far. No one is going to shoot super low, so if you can just try and plug your way around and maybe pick up a few, then you’re going to be quite happy.”

Wilson’s story is well documented. Star at Augusta State, member of the victorious 2003 Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team, nine seconds between 2006-2009 and a place on the 2008 European Ryder Cup team. Then things went horribly wrong.

Losing his card after the 2011 season never seemed possible, but the Englishman had lost the game that took him to ninth on the 2009 money list. He rediscovered his game in 2014 when he won the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews. That seemed to signal his return. Two years later he was again without a European Tour card.

Wilson has spent the last two seasons on the European Challenge Tour. He came within two places of earning a full card last year when he finished 17th on the money list, with the top 15 graduating to the main tour.

The Englishman is playing a reduced schedule this season because of his lowly status. He’s racked up two top five finishes to sit 45th on the money list, with the top 110 at season’s end retaining cards. He’ll struggle to maintain that status with limited starts, but a victory on Sunday will see him regain his European Tour card.

“It’s nice to be back in the mix,” Wilson said. “It’s nice to come through today. 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.

“I was patient. Then the last four holes I suddenly found something and hit good shots all the way in. Maybe it’s a bit of maturity, I don’t know, but I’m really pleased that that happened, that I allowed that to happen. Sometimes it’s easy to lose the head a little bit and get frustrated, but I managed to plod my way through that and was thinking clearly and found a little something.”

Many inside the European game will be hoping the affable Englishman can plod his way on to his second European Tour victory.

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