Thorbjorn Olesen might never get an easier win in his career as he did in the $7 million Turkish Airlines Open, although it didn’t feel as easy as it looked.
The 26-year-old Dane took a seven shot lead into the final round and was always the odds on favorite to win. He did just that, but only by three shots.
Olesen earned his fourth European Tour victory with a final round of 69, 2-under-par, to go with previous scores of 68, 62 and 66. His 20-under-par 264 total gave him a three shot victory over England’s David Horsey and Haotong Li of China.
Olesen earned $1.1 million, his biggest European Tour check. Horsey and Li picked up $620,000 each.
The Dane was pegged back significantly during the final round, despite his large lead. Horsey got within one shot when he birdied the 12th hole en route to a final-round 65, the same score as Li.
“I sort of thought if I could get to 20 under, that would be a reasonable effort and put a little bit of pressure on,” Horsey said. “I just wanted to put on a little pressure early and thankfully I was able to do that. I just ran out of a bit of steam there on the back nine.”
Olesen relieved the pressure by matching the Englishman’s birdie to maintain the status quo.
“I actually slept all right the last couple of days,” said Olesen, when asked about his seven-shot overnight lead. “It was a weird feeling – I knew the guys today were able to shoot a low number so I had to make a few birdies. After nine holes guys were shooting really low numbers, so all of a sudden there was a lot of pressure on.
“I felt like I kept it pretty steady. Obviously the last four holes were tough mentally.”
It is Olesen’s first win of the season, and first since last year’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. It comes after an indifferent spell of form.
“It means a lot,” he added. “The last couple of months have been pretty poor. I haven’t played well and all of a sudden you’re leading by a big margin. It was difficult when you haven’t been playing well for that long.”
The victory takes Olesen to ninth on the European money list. He is now in line to cash in on the season ending $5 million bonus pool paid out to the top 10 European Tour players at the conclusion of the DP World Championship in Dubai.
Danny Willett’s chances of taking the $1.25 million top prize from that pool for finishing European number one are still up in the air. Willett needed to finish fifth or better to leapfrog Henrik Stenson at the top of the Race to Dubai. The Englishman closed with a 4-over-par 75 to finish in joint 68th place. He trails Stenson by 252,164 points with two tournaments remaining.