What a great Dane! Thorbjorn Olesen holds his nerve to clinch emotional British Masters after producing stunning eagle-birdie finish
- Thorbjorn Olesen won the British Masters in stunning fashion on Sunday
- The 32-year-old led overnight but looked to be struggling on the final day
- But Olesen produced a sensational eagle-birdie finish to win the title
It was five months ago to the day that Thorbjorn Olesen had stood before a jury asked to decide whether he was guilty of sexual assault. Five months to the day when a guilty verdict would surely have ended his career.
Now, the 32-year-old London-based Dane stood over a 45ft birdie putt before a hushed 15,000-strong crowd at the Belfry with a chance to win one of the most prestigious titles on the DP World Tour.
Seconds later, the ecstatic reaction as the ball fell below ground must have sounded like sweet relief to Olesen as the years of agony melted away.
Thorbjorn Olesen (pictured) won the British Masters despite struggling on the final day
At the venue that has witnessed so many great Ryder Cup moments, he was briefly overcome as he savoured a one stroke victory in the Betfred British Masters, and his best day on a golf course since he walloped Jordan Spieth in the singles in Paris in 2018.
‘It’s been a long time since I won and it’s been some tough years but luckily I had some great people around me, especially my partner Lauren,’ Olesen said.
‘You sometimes feel that you’re never going to win again, even play again and I think that was really tough to go through. Standing here after a lot of hard work and belief to win again really means so much.’
Olesen looked set to become part of the European jetset after his nerveless contribution to that Ryder Cup but everything changed on a flight back from Memphis to London in July 2019.
The Dane looked to be struggling on the final day but produced a stunning eagle-birdie finish
Owing to the pandemic, it would be December 8, 2021 before he had his day in court, and explained that sleeping pills bought on a ‘dodgy website’ by his partner led to alleged behaviour towards a fellow passenger that a number of witnesses convincingly contended was wholly out of character.
‘I am embarrassed and ashamed by the account of my actions outlined during the trial,’ said Olesen, following the not guilty verdict.
It’s not been easy rebuilding his career and the strain showed over 16 nerve-jangling holes. He began with a three-shot lead but that proved no protection on a day when he barely hit a good shot until he stood on the 17th tee.
Time and again he was playing from the woodland. Time and again he turned away in disgust as one wayward approach followed another.
The one consolation was that, somehow, with two holes to play he still had a slim chance of forcing a play-off against Swede Sebastian Soderberg, after Scot Richie Ramsay had sadly blown his chance of winning with a calamitous double bogey at the 18th. ‘If only I could finish birdie, birdie,’ Olesen said to himself.
From somewhere, he finally mustered a straight drive down the par five 17th — and inexplicably followed it with an even better approach to 25ft. He then rolled in the eagle putt.
Olesen still had to negotiate the tortuous 18th, perhaps the most difficult finishing hole on the European Tour.
Olesen has had to overcome a torrid year after he got acquitted of sexual assault claims
All day, we had seen players mess up. But there is a reason why some players do well at the Ryder Cup. Why some never lose it, even after their lives have been turned upside down.
Again, Olesen struck a beauty from the tee, followed by a six iron to the correct level of the three-tier green.
As he stood over his long birdie putt, he summoned the golfer within. Just as he had over the final two holes the previous evening, he finished eagle, birdie — and this time the six strokes will change his life once more.
First Richard Bland last year and now Olesen.
There’s hardly a recognised star who bothers to turns up for this event any more but still the crowd show up in numbers — and how good to see them rewarded with another incredible storybook finish.