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A date with destiny waits for Wilson
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By David Ferguson
China.org.cn staff reporter

If England's Oliver Wilson can preserve his slender lead in the HSBC Champions Tournament over sixteen holes today, he will become a winner for the first time as a fully-professional golfer, and the holder of the richest and most prestigious title in Asian golf.

A huge gallery on 16 awaits the arrival of the Mickelson and Garcia groups.

A huge gallery on 16 awaits the arrival of the Mickelson and Garcia groups. [China.org.cn]

However good the players at the top of the leaderboard might be, and however many years of experience they might have, if they tell you that they're not thinking about the pressure when they're out there on the course, don't believe them. Even if they believe it themselves, it's just not true.

The leading group in the final round of the HSBC Champions Tournament played their tee shots on the testing but birdiable par 5 second hole as follows: leader (Oliver Wilson - England): pushed drive into the bunker on the right; second (Phil Mickelson - USA, multiple major winner and No 2 in the world): rough on the right; third (Geoff Ogilvy - Australia and previous US Open winner) rough on the left.

The group 'behind' them – England's David Horsey and Ross Fisher, and Felipe Aguilar of Chile, playing their 11th hole of the final round and some sixteen or seventeen shots behind the leaders, produced three perfect drives that bisected the fairway and left each of them with a straightforward second to the green and the chance of a birdie.

Pressure can cause the best in the game to creak. But it won't cause them to crack – that's why they're the best.

One of the best - Phil Mickelson thanks the crowd for their appreciation

One of the best - Phil Mickelson thanks the crowd for their appreciation [China.org.cn]

Six months ago Oliver Wilson was finishing a respectable second in the Volvo China Open, a quality tournament won by Damien McGrane - who has performed well here without ever threatening to take the title - but a tournament with a field that is a level or two below the HSBC. If anyone had then suggested to Wilson that half a year later he would have played in a Ryder Cup in which he would beat Phil Mickelson and Anthony Kim, and would be teeing off as leader in the final group on the final day of the biggest tournament in Asia alongside Geoff Ogilvy and the selfsame Phil Mickelson, it is hard to believe that he would simply have nodded in agreement, as if it was merely part of the plan.

Yet there he is, and there is no question that he is there on merit. In his third round yesterday he played golf that was sometimes steady, sometimes scrambled, and sometimes inspired, and finished the round on 12 under, a shot ahead of Geoff Ogilvy and two ahead of a duo by the names of Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia. He has shot 67, 68, and 69 for his total of 204, but I think he will have to do better than 70 in the fourth round if he is to take the title and secure his maiden victory.

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