Thorbjorn Olesen has now landed two big European Tour titles since he started working with his Scottish coach, Hugh Marr, after backing up a Dunhill Links victory last year with victory in the Turkish Airlines Open.
It wasn’t quite as comfortable as the Dane would have liked. His seven-shot overnight lead was slashed to one by David Horsey. He got there in the end, though, earning just over £950,000 for a three-shot success at the Regnum Carya course in Belek.
Marr, who is based in England and describes himself as a “performance coach”, worked with Paul Casey at one time. “I’d seem him around on Tour and gave him a call when I was looking for a new coach before the Dunhill Links last year,” said Olesen after catapulting himself up 29 places to ninth in the Race to Dubai. “We have changed a lot of things in my swing. I’d had the same coach for 14-15 years and it’s a different way of thinking with Hugh.”
Olesen, a 26-year-old from Farso who lives in London, had high hopes of getting into this year’s Ryder Cup after that success in Scotland 13 months ago then starting his 2016 campaign brightly. He was still in the Hazeltine hunt, in fact, when he finished second in the BMW International Open in Germany.
An opening 80 in the French Open and a subsequent withdrawal was the start of a torrid spell, though. He’d missed seven out of ten cuts before coming here and returning to top form with a vengeance. He looked the winner, in fact, as soon as he hit the front with a scintillating 62 on Friday.
“It means a lot as it had been a bad spell for me,” said Olesen of his fourth European Tour triumph. “I played well at the start of the season and felt like I had a good chance to actually make the Ryder Cup team also. But, in the summer there, I just played bad in the big events. Coming back here and then winning such a big tournament is huge, especially when I haven’t been in contention for four months.”
With Thomas Bjorn believed to be a strong favourite, he’d have a fellow Dane as his captain if he can make the next Ryder Cup in France. “For me personally, it would be awesome to play under Thomas and I hope he gets it,” said Olesen, who closed with a 69 for a 20-under-par 264 total to finish three ahead of both Horsey and China’s Haotong Li after they both signed off with 65s. “He deserves it as he’s been so big in the game of golf and especially in Denmark.”
David Drysdale finished as the top Scot in joint-13th, an effort that has earned him a spot in this week’s Nedbank Challenge, the second Final Series event in South Africa, along with Marc Warren and Richie Ramsay.
Drysdale, pictured, thought he’d missed out on a Sun City spot after seeing a seven-foot birdie putt spin out of hole at the last in Belek. But as he headed to Antalya airport, the 41-year-old got a phone call to say that, by climbing nine spots to 83rd in the Race to Dubai rankings, he had secured the last of the 78 places. It transpired he has Patrick Reed to thank for extending his season by at least another week as the US Ryder Cup star has declined an invitation that was extended to him after he withdrew from the event in Turkey over safety fears.
“I’m disappointed to play as average as I did,” admitted Drysdale after a closing 71. “I missed a lot of putts from around three to four feet and the one at the last was certainly sore. It’s a decent finish, but I just didn’t putt well enough. Thankfully, though, I’ve made it to Sun City and I’m absolutely delighted about that, especially as I’ve played there before in the Dimension Data Pro-Am on the Sunshine Tour.”