x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Wilson closes in on maiden victory

England's Oliver Wilson is just 16 holes away from the first significant tournament victory of his career.

Oliver Wilson of England on the par four 18th green during the third round of the HSBC Champions at Sheshan Golf Club.
Oliver Wilson of England on the par four 18th green during the third round of the HSBC Champions at Sheshan Golf Club.

SHANGHAI // The British golfer Oliver Wilson is just 16 holes away from the first significant tournament victory of his career. The maiden victory could come in the final round of the HSBC Champions on Monday as Wilson shot a three-under par round of 69 putting him on 12-under for the first three rounds of play. He then parred the first two holes of the fourth round before play was halted by darkness. The Australian Geoff Ogilvy and the American Phil Mickelson both shot a two-under 70 in the third round, which put them one and two strokes back respectively from Wilson.

Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson both parred the third round. The Spaniard and the Swede also managed three final-round holes with Garcia finishing the day at ten-under and Stenson on nine-under. "Anytime you're in the lead, it's got to be the best place to be," said Wilson, who has been runner-up four times on a European tour event, but he has yet to clinch a win. "It has proved to me and everyone else that I can do it when it matters."

After three days of wet conditions, which included Friday's play being washed out, Sunday was dry, cool and windy at the Sheshan Golf Club on the outskirts of Shanghai. "It was tough today," Wilson added. "Definitely the toughest day we've had so far." Ogilvy, the 2006 US Open winner and has two wins in the World Golf Championships may be the favourite to overtake Wilson in the final round. He certainly knows how to win big events, but has few other event wins to his name.

"I don't know why I play well in big tournaments," Ogilvy said. "Just one of those things. I wish I could explain it because if I could work it out I would do it in all tournaments. "It's hard to get any momentum when you're playing holes in a broken-up fashion. It's a little bit awkward." Garcia had a chance to lead after three rounds, but stumbled on the back nine. He was the leader at 12-under after ten holes, but missed a four-foot putt to save par on the 11th.

He never quite recovered with two more bogeys on the back nine to hamper his hopes of climbing the world rankings. Garcia is ranked third behind Tiger Woods and Mickelson and has a chance to overtake Mickelson if he finishes in the top three. If Garcia wins the tournament, the No 2 spot is his. If he finishes second, Mickelson needs to finish at least fourth to keep his No 2 spot. Anthony Kim was disqualified from the tournament for playing with an altered driver. Kim, part of the United States' Ryder Cup victory over Europe two months ago, hit a sprinkler head as he tapped his driver on the ground while walking down the seventh fairway. At the eighth, he hit his first drive only 150 yards, and out of bounds. He then hit a second provisional shot.

He finished the hole with a triple bogey and played two more before he found a rules official, who he asked to disqualify him for playing with an altered club. Kim had an eight-over 44 on the front nine, and parred the 10th hole. *AP