ST ANDREWS, United Kingdom: Talented Danish youngster Thorbjorn Olesen kept his nerve down the stretch to win the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Sunday (Monday in Manila) at St Andrews for his third victory on the European Tour.
The 25-year-old becomes the youngest Dane to win three EPGA events, as he protected his overnight three-shot lead to come home two strokes clear of American pair Brooks Koepka and Chris Stroud.
He fired a solid one-under final round 71 to finish on 18-under for the tournament and is the first Danish player to win the prestigious event.
Five players were a further shot back on the Old Course in eastern Scotland including Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Sweden’s Joakim Lagergren, Chris Wood of England, Frenchman Benjamin Hebert and Austrian Bernd Wiesberger.
“It feels very special and I’m very emotional right now,” said Olesen as he cradled the giant trophy awarded to the champion.
“It’s been a really tough year but it’s unbelievable to win here at St Andrews and something that dreams are made off,” added the Dane, who will see his world ranking catapult to about number 75.
“I started badly but when I won my first tournament I started badly as well so I just told myself to be patient and keep making pars. Then I sank that amazing (50ft) putt on 15 which gave me a cushion.
“Sixteen and 17 are two tough golf holes and it was breezy and cold but I played them well, made two good shots and two good putts at 17, so it was nice to go to the 18th with a two-shot lead.
“As I said, it’s been a really tough year and to hold this trophy is unbelievable. There are a lot of people behind me, my coaches and my family, so I have to say a big ‘thank you’ to all of them,” concluded the Dane.
The diminutive Olesen (1.75m/5ft 9in), who hails from Fureso, some 20km from Copenhagen, tied for second at this event in 2010, and won his first tournament at the Sicilian Open in April 2012 before adding his second win in 2014 when he finished three shots clear of French number one Victor Dubuisson at the Perth International.
His best results at a major are a tie for sixth at the 2013 Masters and a share of ninth at the 2012 British Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
Another Danish player Soren Kjeldsen was part of a four-player group on 14-under and tied for ninth alongside Scotland’s David Drysdale, American Stewart Cink and David Horsey of England.