Dane shoots 9-under 62 for course record and 1-stroke lead in European Tour’s 2nd of 3 straight events in Spain’s Canary Islands
Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen once again is showing the form that landed him a spot on Europe’s victorious 2018 Ryder Cup team.
Olesen shot a course-record 9-under 62 on Thursday at Golf Costa Adeje to grab the first-round lead at the European Tour’s Tenerife Open. The sparkling display followed a tie for fifth last week in his 2021 debut after recovering from a wrist injury, when he entered the first of three consecutive events in Spain’s Canary Islands with little thought of winning.
“To be honest, my expectations for this week are low, as well,” he said. “I was very happy to finish top five [last week]; that was amazing. I haven’t been that high on a leaderboard for a very long time. Being in contention again was a great feeling and something I’ve missed very much for the last few years.”
Olesen is competing on the European Tour in part because of what COVID-19 has done to life in London, his adopted home. Olesen was arrested after an incident on an international flight from Nashville, Tenn., to London after the PGA Tour’s 2019 WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational and charged with sexual assault. His trial was delayed indefinitely because of the pandemic, so the European Tour granted him playing status beginning last summer after he had completed a one-year suspension, pending his court date. He pleaded not guilty to three criminal counts: sexual assault, being drunk on an aircraft and common assault.
“I don’t set high expectations now,” said Olesen, whose T-5 last week was his best result in 13 starts since the arrest. “I found something last week and was making birdies. Today my putting was great, and no wind to start made it a bit easier. I’m trying to take every day as it is and concentrate on the shot and see what’s happening.”
Starting on the back nine at Golf Costa Adeje on Tenerife Island, Olesen ran off a string of five consecutive bogeys, on Nos. 15-1, in what he called “the best putting display I’ve shown for a very long time.” He slipped with a bogey at the par-4 eighth, his 17th hole of the day, before birdieing his final hole, the par-4 ninth, to emerge from the pack with the lead.
Olesen, 31, a five-time winner on the European Tour, has slipped to No. 358 in the world ranking after reaching No. 33 in 2013. A victory would be his first since June 3, 2018, when he won the Italian Open. American golf fans might recall his 5-and-4 thumping of Jordan Spieth as the Europeans won the singles session, 7½-4½, en route to a seven-point rout in the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in France.
American John Catlin, who has won three times in the past eight months on the European Tour, held the lead at 10 under through 16 holes on Tenerife before a bogey-bogey finish for a 63. He shared second place with South Africa’s Garrick Higgo, who won last week’s Gran Canaria title, Sweden’s Alexander Bjork and South Africa’s Dean Burmester.
American Julian Suri was tied for 16th at 5-under 66, and compatriots Sean Crocker and Sihwan Kim were among a group at 67. (For first-round scores, click here.)
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