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7 September 2007

Wilson takes the lead at halfway stage


Crans-Montana, Switzerland, 7 September - Oliver Wilson held a one-stroke advantage over defending champion Bradley Dredge going into the weekend of the Omega European Masters.


Wilson, seeking his maiden European Tour title after two second places this season, added a five-under-par 66 to the 65 he completed earlier by picking up three strokes in his four remaining holes at the Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club.


His 11-under-par 131 target left the 26-year-old Englishman one clear of Welshman Dredge, who birdied three of his last five holes, including the tough par-three 16th for a second successive 66. Australian Brett Rumford, who also shot a 66, is two shots further adrift at eight under par, with England's Phillip Archer, another to shoot a five-under-par round, a further shot back.


Dredge has twice come close to winning this year, in the Irish Open at Adare Manor where he lost a play-off to Padraig Harrington, and at the Celtic Manor Wales Open, where he was denied a home victory by Richard Sterne. He has now set his sights on winning before the year out and the fact he won so convincingly at Crans-sur-Sierre gives him confidence to get the job done.


"The golf course suits me and I can see a low score round here," said Dredge. "I have managed to get it round in two good scores and I need to keep doing that, maybe hit my irons a little better, but the win last year gives me a lot of confidence that I can get it done on the weekend round here.


Elsewhere there was great excitement when the 16-year-old Hawaiian, Tadd Fujikawa, concluded his European Tour debut with a spectacular albatross on his final hole. Faced with 285 yards on the 632 yard par-five ninth, Fujikawa struck the perfect three wood into the hole. Although he missed the cut, it meant he will take away happy memories of his first visit to Europe, as well as a new Omega "Double Eagle" watch.


“I was playing so badly, terrible, couldn’t make a putt to save my life, couldn’t hit the ball and nothing was going right and then I double-eagled the last hole,” said Fujikawa, who was invited by Omega to take part in the tournament, his first in Europe. “It was amazing. I had 278 yards to the front, 285 yards to the pin and hit a three wood. I was pretty sure it would be on the green but didn’t think it would go in. I couldn’t see it drop but heard it go in. It was pretty nice to finish like that.”


Looking back over the two days as a whole, when the weather was unseasonably chilly, Fujikawa added: “It was a great experience. First time in Europe and I have never experienced this weather before. This was cold. Yesterday was very challenging. I didn’t feel I played too bad but got a few bad breaks here and there. My score wasn’t very good. Today I hit it terrible, putted terrible and then finished great. I’ll be going out on a high.


“Like other tournaments, you have the learn to stay patient. Trust the shot and get a lot of experience. This is my third event as a pro. I need more experience out here and more course knowledge. The guys I played with today have 10, 15 years experience of this course and that is helpful. You need to place your ball well on the greens and have good distance control. You have to be consistent and if you are not consistent you will not score well.” (