“You’ve been on quite a journey. It’s four years since you visited the winner’s circle…”
At this point in his post-round TV interview, Thorbjorn Olesen shut his eyes and looked down. He rubbed his right eye with his right hand. Four years since his last win him, five months after being cleared of sexual assault charges, minutes after one of the most stunning finishes you’ll ever see, “quite” was right in describing Olesen’s odyssey.
Let’s start with Sunday. The Dane started the British Masters final round with a three-shot advantage. Then Olesen bogeyed 1. He birdied 3. But he bogeyed 6. And 9, 14 and 15. On the tee on the par-5 17th, he was down two. Of course, if you’ve read the first couple paragraphs, you know how these ends. Only, even Olesen himself can’t believe it.
“Well, standing on 17, I’m thinking, can make birdie, birdie and maybe get into a playoff,” he said afterward. “But obviously when I got the chance on 17, I prefer to take that. 18 is a tough hole, so it’s a good score obviously.
“Yeah, I just gave it everything.”
What’s “everything?” It looks like this.
On the penultimate hole, after a drive down the fairway and an iron to 28 feet, Olesen dropped the eagle putt. He was now tied.
On the par-4 18th, after another drive down the fairway and an iron to 35 feet, he rolled in the birdie putt. Olesen was your winner.
On Saturday, he finished eagle-birdie. On Sunday, he did too. Behind 63 feet of putts.
Yeah, he just gave it everything.
“Unbelievable from Olesen,” an announcer on Sky Sports said. “Truly remarkable.”
“Must be so emotional for him,” another announcer said. “A miracle finish.”
“I can’t believe what I’ve just seen,” another announcer said. “How on earth do you explain that?”
Back to the journey.
The win is Olesen’s first since the Italian Open in February of 2018, and sixth overall on the formerly named European Tour. The victory is also Olesen’s first since he was cleared in December of sexually assaulting a woman on a flight to London after the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in 2019. A month after the incident, he was suspended by the Tour, but was reinstated last July after a delay in court proceedings.
During the trial, Olesen said he had no memory of the incident after drinking alcohol and taking sleeping tablets. At the time, he was ranked 62nd in the world; entering this week, Olesen was 376th.
“I want to apologize wholeheartedly to everyone on board the flight from [Nashville] to London on July 29th 2019, who was affected by my behavior,” Olesen said in a statement after the trial. “I do not remember anything that happened after take-off, but I am embarrassed and ashamed by the account of my actions that was outlined during the trial.
“My behavior was completely out of character, and nothing like this has ever happened to me before or since. My actions resulted from taking powerful sleeping pills I had not taken before, and my sole intent was to ensure I managed to sleep on a transatlantic flight after an exhausting playing schedule.
“I have paid a very heavy price for my mistake. This case had a devastating impact on me personally, on my family, and on my career.”
On Sunday, he was a winner again. Afterward, he was asked by a reporter: “Your sixth title on the DP World Tour, where does this rank amongst the other five?”
“This is very special,” he said. “It’s been a tough few years, so yeah, it’s very special.”
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