Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen credited the world’s greatest surfer, Kelly Slater, for helping him win the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland and put a disappointing European Tour season behind him.
“It’s been an incredibly tough year in which up until now I hadn’t played very well and was in danger of losing my card,” said the 25-year-old Olesen.
“But I never stopped believing that something good was just around the corner and I had three great rounds this week – 68 at Carnoustie, 66 at Kingsbarns, and 65 at St Andrews before hanging in with a final day 71.
“And believe me, Kelly (his pro-am partner) was a great encouragement. He’s a chilled guy who’s a good golfer himself and he knew how to keep me positive.”
Olesen’s winning aggregate of 18-under-par 270 earned him the equivalent of R11-million and saw him finish two clear of Americans Brooks Koepka and Chris Stroud who shared second place on 272.
Ernie Els looked to be in contention for a first win in this tournament when he reached the 14th tee on 15-under, and just one off the lead. But bunker trouble there led to a double-bogey seven, and another double at the treacherous par-4 17th Road Hole, where he got stuck in the rough, saw him quickly slip down the leaderboard. He closed with a 72 to share 27th place on 277, with playing partner in the final round Branden Grace (73) and Justin Walters (69) tying for 30th on 278.
If it did turn out for the most part to be a disappointing tournament for South Africa’s golfers, at least 21-year-old rookie Christiaan Bezuidenhout impressed. He did double-bogey 14 in the final round, followed by a triple at 17 but overall he had a good week highlighted by a second round 65 at Kingsbarns, and he would finish one shot back of Grace and Walters on 279.
The former SA No 1 amateur, who topped this year’s Big Easy Tour Order of Merit, has already been snapped up by management company Octa8on, and the group’s Mark Ingram was singing his praises.
“Christiaan has some lovely traits as a golfer, and there›s elements of a Retief Goosen in his swing with a calmness about him. And he’s already proved himself a winner both at amateur and pro level in South Africa.
Stuart Cage, who mentored Rory McIlroy as a rookie and has a reputation of taking the young pups and turning them into big players, will be looking after him.”