If Thorbjorn Olesen succumbed to what golfing hackers term "army golf" of the left-right-left variety as his driver misbehaved down the stretch, it ultimately didn't prove too debilitating. The Dane had enough in the tank, so to speak; and, after starting out with a seven-stroke lead, Olesen claimed the Turkish Airlines Open title with three shots to spare over joint runners-up David Horsey and Haotong Li here at Regnum Carya resort.
Olesen’s final round 69 for a 20-under-par winning total of 264 secured a fourth European Tour career win and his biggest payday with a cheque for €1,065,388, although the anticipated procession in the sun proved rather bumpier as Horsey, who covered the front nine in 29 strokes, moved to within one shot of the winner with a birdie on the 12th only for the Englishman to run out of steam on the journey home.
While Horsey didn’t look at any leaderboard and only realised after his round that he’d got to within one shot of the lead heading down the stretch, Olesen – an avid reader of leaderboards – was very aware of the charge. And, if there were a few ropey shots over the final four holes, most notably his drive on the 17th which fortuitously stayed in-bounds, he stuck assiduously to his task and that recovery approach to the penultimate green was a shot worthy of any tournament win.
“The last four holes were tough, and I was not feeling my best and it was really difficult. But I managed to get it over line,” he admitted.
The 26-year-old had endured a tough summer with eight missed cuts in 10 tournaments following a runner-up finish in the BMW International back in June. Now, he aims to kick on.
“I feel like my game is good enough to compete in all the biggest tournaments and the Majors and everywhere. I’ve showed that before, also, I think. It’s obviously the goal to win a Major at some point in my career.
“Sometimes you get too hard on yourself but I think that’s also what makes us really good at this game, because you need to be sort of a perfectionist to play this game. Your bad shots need to be decent to win tournaments, so that’s probably where the biggest thing is,” said Olesen.
US Masters champion Danny Willett – "I'm not enjoying golf at the moment," he admitted – saw his quest to leapfrog back above absent money leader Henrik Stenson fail as he languished to 75 for 286, to finish in 68th place.
Pádraig Harrington, the lone Irishman in the field, suffered a double bogey six on the 10th – his closing hole – to sign for a third successive 69 which left him in tied-31st on five-under 279 but remained upbeat about his form heading on to the Nedbank in Sun City and the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, his final two appearances of the season.
Indeed, the Dubliner’s form had as much to do with the afterglow of Ireland’s win over the All Blacks having broken his routine to stay up late to watch the game.
“At this stage it is a once in a lifetime achievement. It was a great game, exciting, everything about it was a nice little buzz, a dozen of us huddled around the iPad. It made for good viewing, nice buzz to it,” said Harrington.
Likening how his breakthrough Major win at the 2007 gave him greater conviction, Harrington added: “It will definitely give them belief, no doubt about it. When you’ve got to overcome the All Blacks at any stage there has got to be a huge mental block in that, and to achieve that, it should help them against anybody. If you can beat the All Blacks, you can beat anybody.”
The Par 4 10th proved costly to Harrington throughout the tournament, with a run of bogey-bogey-bogey-double bogey over the four rounds. For the second day running he found water off the tee there.
“It happens, that’s the way it is . . . such is life. I holed the right one two weeks ago in Portugal so I won’t worry about that. I played nice and solid, got the breaks in Portugal and didn’t get so many breaks this week. There’s so many good things about my game, I’ve just got to keep doing the same old, same old,” added Harrington.