Olesen's performance in majors earns respect

Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark.

Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark.

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The Masters

Augusta (Ga.) National Golf Club

4/10/2014 - 4/13/2014

Pos Name Thru Today Overall
1 Bubba Watson $1,620,000 600 -8
2 Jonas Blixt $792,000 270 -5
2 Jordan Spieth $792,000 270 -5
4 Miguel Angel Jimenez $432,000 0 -4
5 Rickie Fowler $342,000 115 -2
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— Of the 17 first-time Masters participants, no one impressed more than Thorbjorn Olesen.

“It was everything I had hoped it would be – and even more,” said Olesen, who certainly had a swing of emotions. Sitting at 4-over 148 when he finished early Friday afternoon, the Dane shook his head, not thinking he had a chance to make the cut. On several occasions the leaders got to 7 under that day, but Jason Day settled in atop the leaderboard at 6 under. So with the 10-shot rule in effect, all those at 4 over qualified for the weekend.

No one took advantage like Olesen, who shot 68-68 on the weekend and finished tied for sixth.

It shouldn’t have been a surprise, probably, given that he has been moving along nicely for more than a year now – consistently showing the ability not only to play, but to do so on big stages. Going back to last summer, Olesen, 23, has been top 10 in seven of 20 tournaments, including a T-9 in the Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes and a T-27 at the 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. So it might be time to extend a little more respect to the kid from Fureso, Denmark.

What made Olesen’s first Masters especially impressive is the way in which it began – with a 78. The miserable start included double bogeys at the par-4 10th and par-4 18th, and left the young man shaking his head.

But from there, no one scored any better. Olesen was 10 under for the final 54 holes, compared with Adam Scott, the eventual winner, going 6 under over that same stretch. Now, clearly, there were things that held Olesen back; he conceded that the greens puzzled him and he made too many bogeys (15, plus two doubles).

Still, his firepower is to be admired. In all, he made 21 birdies and scored an eagle. What he did on the par 5s was impressive – an eagle, 12 birdies, two pars, one bogey – as he went 13 under. Not as good as Ernie Els (15 under, including three eagles), but one would have to suggest Olesen warmed up quite nicely to the hallowed grounds.

Although he would have had a share of fourth place had he not bogeyed the 72nd hole, Olesen didn't walk away empty-handed.

Beyond the prize of $278,000, Olesen is exempt into next year’s Masters, thanks to being within the top 12. He rose to 34th in the Official World Golf Ranking, and he’s got some good chances coming up to increase his stature even more.

Olesen is off this week, but he holds a sponsor exemption into the Zurich Classic of New Orleans next week. Two weeks later, Olesen will tee it up in his first Players Championship, then he’ll head to Bulgaria for the Volvo World Match Play Championship.

The Augusta experience, as good as it was, did not quite include all the traditions. He did get a ball to skip across the pond at 16 in the practice round, but the pimento cheese? “No, not yet,” he said, and nothing in his voice indicated he thought that he had missed anything.

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