In what might be the comeback story of the year so far, Denmark’s Thorbjørn Olesen marked a stunning turnaround Sunday on the DP World Tour.
Olesen, who had made far more news off the course than on it in recent years, sank 64 feet in putts on the final two holes to finish eagle-birdie and win the Betfred British Masters.
The victory, so seemingly improbable just moments earlier, left Olesen fighting back tears behind the 18th green at The Belfry’s Brabazon Course.
“I was really struggling,” he said. “I somehow kept going. Incredible.”
That summary could have described things for him off the course, as well.
In December, Olesen was acquitted of sexual-assault charges stemming from an incident on a flight from Nashville to London after the PGA Tour’s 2019 tournament in Memphis. Olesen apologized for his behavior, saying that he could not remember anything from the flight.
His performance Sunday at the resort just north of Birmingham left him a foundation for a career pivot. At The Belfry, home to more than four decades of European Tour tournaments and four Ryder Cups, Olesen authored one of the most amazing finishes in tour history.He entered the day with a three-stroke lead, but that didn’t last as he made the turn in 2-over 38 and added sloppy bogeys at Nos. 14 and 15. Meanwhile, seven groups ahead, Sweden’s Sebastian Soderberg played the back nine in 4-under 32 to shoot 68 and post the clubhouse lead at 9-under 279. As he watched Olesen stumble and no one else post better than 8-under, Soderberg seemed more and more likely to be the eventual winner.
But Olesen wasn’t quite finished.
“Standing on 17,” he said afterward, “I’m thinking, Can I birdie-birdie and get into a playoff?”
He went one better. Olesen reached the dogleg-right, 564-yard par-5 17th in two, holing a 28-foot-2-inch eagle putt to pull even with Soderberg. On the closing hole, a 497-yard par-4 where he needed birdie to win, Olesen ran home a 35-foot-9-inch putt, pumping his arms in celebration.
“It’s obviously a massive tournament,” said Olesen, who closed with a 1-over 73 for a 10-under 278 total for his sixth tour victory and first since the 2018 Italian Open. He joined a roster of Belfry winners that includes Seve Ballesteros, Greg Norman and José María Olazábal. “So many great champions here. The crowds have been amazing from the first day. I’m really happy.”
Staff and Wire Reports