Tait: Olesen's win highlights up-and-coming Vikings
Sunday, April 1, 2012
Get ready for a minor Viking raid. Thorbjørn Olesen’s first European Tour win in the Sicilian Open could be the start of it.
Olesen’s one-shot victory over Chris Wood made him the eighth player from Denmark to win on the European Tour. The small Scandinavian nation now has 26 victories on the European Tour.
Thomas Bjorn holds half of those wins with 13, so Olesen has a long way to go to catch his elder compatriot. However, many expect the Sicilian Open to be the first of many Olesen wins.
The 22-year-old from Fursø, Denmark, turned professional in 2009 and got his European Tour card off the 2010 European Challenge Tour. He finished third on the Challenge Tour rankings that year, thanks to victory in The Princess tournament in Sweden.
The Dane wasted no time in settling onto the European Tour. He had three second-place finishes – the Alfred Dunhill Championship, Italian Open and French Open – to finish 48th on the 2011 money list. That should have earned him the European Tour Rookie of the Year award, but he lost out to England’s Tom Lewis. (Lewis finished 66th on the money list but won the Portugal Masters and earned the accolade instead.)
Olesen started this season the same way he left off last year. He finished eighth in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship and sixth in the Avantha Masters.
“I've been playing some great golf this year, without all parts of my game coming together,” Olesen said. “But this week, my long and short game both came together, and it feels fantastic to finally get over the line.”
Danish players Anders Hansen and Soren Kjeldsen have become regular winners on the European Tour, with three wins apiece. They’ve been pretty much the main supporting cast to marquee name Bjorn. Olesen is a welcome addition to that troupe.
And there are more young Danes waiting in the wings.
Take a look at the European Challenge Tour money list and you’ll find the names Lasse Jensen, Morten Orum Madsen and Andreas Harto at fifth, sixth and seventh place, respectively. Yes, it’s early in the season, but don’t be surprised if one or even all three graduate to this year’s main European Tour.
Pay particular attention to Madsen, who played college golf for Oregon State. He has been touted as a potential European Tour player since he played junior golf. It might not be long before he adds to that list of Danish winners.
Just don’t be surprised if Olesen already has racked up a few more Ws by then.
The Vikings are coming.