Wilson, who was the last man to get into the field, carded a three-under-par 69 in testing conditions at Doha Golf Club. On 10-under, the 38-year-old Mansfield man leads by a shot from Australian Nick Cullen, Spaniard Nacho Elvira, Frenchman Mike Lorenzo-Vera and South African Erik van Rooyen. “There’s still a long way to go,” insisted Wilson, who held off Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood to claim his solitary European title triumph at St Andrews around four-and-a-half years ago, in an attempt to not get ahead of himself. “But it’s nice to be back in the mix.”
He finished 11th on the money-list in 2008, the year he played in the Ryder Cup at Valhalla, before climbing to seventh the following season. He then fell to 792nd in the world before that breakthrough success on Scottish soil, but has struggled since then.
He lost his European Tour card at the end of the 2016 season and even toiled on the Challenge Tour before landing two victories on the second-tier circuit last year in the Swedish Challenge and Irish Challenge. Despite that, he finished just outside the card-winning positions in the Road to Ras Al Khaimah.
Finishing 17th, though, has earned Wilson six starts this season on the main tour. He’s already finished third in the South African Open and fifth in the Alfred Dunhill Championship. Two birdies in the final four holes and four in total in the penultimate circuit have set up a chance of him hitting the heights once again. “I was patient and found something on the last four holes and hit good shots all the way in – maybe a bit of maturity,” said the leader. “I was thinking clearly and found something.”
Scott Jamieson jumped more than 30 spots into a share of 17th on six-under after a 68 that was lit up by a late flurry of birdies. Liam Johnston (69) is next best among the Scots on four-under, followed by Bob MacIntyre (three-under), Richie Ramsay (two-under) and Grant Forrest (level-par).
On the LET, England’s Meghan MacLaren stepped up her bid to make a successful defence of the New South Wales Open title after moving into a share of the lead with Swede Lynn Carlsson with a round to go.
MacLaren, a double medallist in last year’s inaugural European Championships at Gleneagles, and Carlsson jumped ahead of overnight leader Valdis Thora Jonsdottir with matching 67s at Queanbeyan Golf Club, where Michele Thomson slipped seven off the pace after a 73.