The fact that any lead in golf is ephemeral was brought sharply into focus once again. Without doing much wrong, but thanks to a brilliant charge by England’s David Horsey, that advantage of Olesen’s was frittered down to just one shot at the halfway stage on a topsy-turvy day at the Regnum Carya course.
Then, on the back nine, several things happened. First Olesen woke up and made three birdies in four holes of his favourite stretch – between the par-5 12th and the par-5 15th. And as quickly as he caught fire, he started spraying his shots in wild fashion over the last four holes, the 15th included.
Somehow, the Dane battled hard and his wayward drives resulted in only one bogey – on the 17th hole. As the 26-year-old struggled, it was the turn of Chinese Haotong Li to become red-hot. Four birdies from the 14th to the 17th hole put immense pressure on Olesen, but the champion managed to scrape through without further damage.
In the end, he shot a two-under par 69 to finish on 20-under, while Li and Horsey were tied for second place at 17-under par 267.
Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger (69) was two shots adrift at 269, while South Africa’s George Coetzee
“I knew on this golf course you could go out and shoot a really low score if you get it going. Some of the guys did that on the front nine, and yeah, it got really close, put a lot of pressure on me,” said Olesen.
“It was difficult, but I felt like yesterday, I was very good in being patient. Mentally, I was stronger in the middle of the round. I had a bad three-putt there on the ninth which was a bad timing. In the middle of the back nine, I made those few birdies, that was very important, especially the one on 12 was definitely a momentum changer.”
The fourth European Tour win of his career resulted in Olesen moving up to ninth in the Race to Dubai and he is expected to move to No65 in the world today from 92nd.
Horsey was disappointed not to reach the number he had in his mind, but delighted with the way he scored throughout the week.
“I sort of thought, if I could get to 20-under, that would be a reasonable effort and put a little bit of pressure. I wanted to put a little pressure early doors and thankfully was able to do that. Just ran out of a bit of steam there on the back nine,” said the four-time European Tour champion. “I am pleased with how I played. Probably the best I’ve played all week, so yeah, a little disappointed I couldn’t keep it going on the back nine.”
Masters champion Danny Willett walked off with a 75 for a tied 68th. He said he was considering withdrawing from next week’s NedBank Challenge as he wasn’t enjoying his golf, but changed his mind later and will head to Sun City.
Willett, who is second in the Race to Dubai behind Henrik Stenson, said: “It just comes and goes, a couple of good days and a couple of bad days. To be honest I don’t really want to be out there playing golf.
“It could not have happened at a worse time. Things are just not going my way, nothing feels that great.”
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