Friday 9 December 2016

Olesen closing in on Turkish jackpot

Turkish Airlines Open, Live, Sky Sports 4, 9.0am / Shriners Hospitals Open, Live, Sky Sports 4, 8.30pm

William S Callahan

Published 05/11/2016 | 02:30

Thorbjorn Olesen is line for a big payday from the Race To Dubai series
Thorbjorn Olesen is line for a big payday from the Race To Dubai series

The winner's toast when the final putt is holed in the €6.3m Turkish Airlines Open in Antalya tomorrow should be "absent friends".

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Fate - and the lack of 10 players ranked in the top 15 of the Race To Dubai series - has opened the door to a massive payday for competitors who might not otherwise be in position to bank some impressive cheques.

The champion will earn over €1m, second place receives €712,329 and third place finisher can take home €401,826.

If the tournament had finished yesterday, the top three would be Thorbjorn Olesen, currently ranked 38th in the Race to Dubai, Spain's Adrian Otaegui (75th) and Thongchai Jaidee (20th).

Open champion and Race to Dubai leader Henrik Stenson had never intended to play Turkey, but the withdrawals of such luminaries as Rory McIlroy (3rd), Alex Noren (4th), Rafa Cabrera-Bello (6th) and Louis Oosthuizen (7th), plus American Patrick Reed, puts a different complexion on the leaderboard with 36 holes to go.

Quite apart from the quality of their golf, players of this quality can exert an intimidating effect on the lesser lights, but without them in the field, opportunity is knocking very loudly for the less heralded performers.

Decision

The stakes are high for those who made the decision to compete at the Regnum Carya Golf & Spa, as Olesen can appreciate.

He has missed nine cuts in his last 13 events, but he hit the high notes yesterday in carding a course record 62, featuring eight birdies and an eagle on the par 71 layout.

At 15 under par, Olesen leads by six shots from Otaegui and Jaidee who shot 63 and 69 respectively.

The Dane has won three times on the European Tour, most recently at the 2015 Dunhill Links Championship.

"I feel like I've been up in contention in a lot of big events," he said. "I feel pretty comfortable. There's still 36 holes to go, so that's a lot of golf to be played, but I have to keep being aggressive out there. That's the only way I can win."

Padraig Harrington's 69 for 141, one under par, left him eight off the joint second-placed players, and 14 adrift of Olesen.

If he has a low round today, the recently crowned Portugal Masters winner could make inroads on the leaderboard, but he believes the title is Olesen's if the Dane can maintain his current form.

"Thorbjorn has a golf game to compete with anybody on any stage in the world," said the Dubliner.

"The only thing that will hold him back is his own frustrations at a lack of perfection on any given shot, and that gets in on him.

"He's got a great swing and strikes the ball great, so with him, it really does all come down to attitude."

Meanwhile, Seamus Power played impressive golf for a four-under-par 67 in round two of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas.

The Irish Olympian had six birdies and just two bogeys on his card. His four-under-par 138 left him seven shots behind the early clubhouse leader Chris Kirk, whose 65 for 11 under set the target for the rest of the field.

James Hahn, Keegan Bradley and Pat Perez were on ten-under par.

Irish Independent

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