Thorbjørn Olesen has a double-double in his sights this week as he aims to finish a memorable year in style at the Turkish Airlines Open, the sixth Rolex Series event on the 2018 Race to Dubai.
The Dane is looking to secure his second Turkish Airlines Open title after emerging victorious two years ago, as well as his second win on the Rolex Series following his 2018 Italian Open triumph.
The five-time European Tour winner’s victory at Regnum Carya Golf and Spa Resort in 2016 proved to be a catalyst for a memorable two years – since then he has secured 12 top tens, including fifth place in Antalya last year, and made his debut in The Ryder Cup. He comes into this week after finishing tied seventh at the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai.
Olesen’s first Rolex Series victory in Italy this year was also pivotal, propelling him into the European Team for The 2018 Ryder Cup, where he secured a point over Jordan Spieth in the Sunday singles on the way to a 17.5-10.5 win over the United States.
The Turkish Airlines Open kicks off the final stretch of Rolex Series events, the European Tour’s eight premium tournaments each with a minimum prize fund of $7million, as the 2018 Race to Dubai nears a conclusion.
Irishman Shane Lowry is one man who is aiming to make his mark over the final three weeks of the season, after posting his best result of the year at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters two weeks ago, finishing in second place behind Sergio Garcia.
Lowry was in the final group on Sunday at Regnum Carya last year, eventually finishing in a tie for eighth place as England’s Justin Rose went on to take the title, and he is relishing being back at a venue that he loves.
His fellow countryman Padraig Harrington also has good memories of the venue after taking fourth place in 2017, and a big finish could move the three-time Major winner – currently ranked 89th on the Race to Dubai – into contention for the final two events of the season.
Thorbjørn Olesen: “I like this golf course. I think it suits my eye from the tee. I’ve driven the ball well here in the past, and obviously I have a lot of good memories. Hopefully I can bring that in this year also.
“I’ve been sort of struggling with my game the last few weeks. Especially Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, last week and then it slowly got better and better during the tournament. I started to hit some really nice shots and felt pretty comfortable on Sunday, even though I didn’t score that well. But I felt I was swinging a lot better and I felt more comfortable.
“The Rolex Series is just under the Majors for us. They are huge tournaments and to win in Italy for me, when I was struggling a little bit before, winning that tournament sort of started my season. I played really well after that and that got me into The Ryder Cup, which is great. Now it’s about trying to finish this year off strong.”
Shane Lowry: “I didn’t play great on Sunday here last year but it was still a good week. I was quite happy with it. I like it around here. It’s a lovely place to come and play golf. The hotel we are staying in is amazing and everything about the place is perfect.
“Valderrama was my best week in a while, so I was very happy. Disappointed I didn’t put more pressure on Sergio coming down the stretch but I played great and did all I could. I’m happy I moved up in The Race to Dubai and made sure I’m in the last three events.
“I haven’t had that many events in Europe this year, and to be where I am in such a limited number of events I think is pretty good. I like these three weeks and I think I can make a move. My golf is good and my confidence is high, so I just need to go out there and do the business.”
Padraig Harrington: “It was a nice week last year, I was in contention on Sunday and finished fourth. It’s good to get those feelings, so hopefully we’ll have them back this week.
“A few good things happened last year. I really hit it well off the short par fours. I was very aggressive off those tees and gave myself birdie chances on holes that are — not the long par fours on this course, but the short ones, like 11 with water on the left. Hit a lot of good tee shots on those holes which set up some good chances and turned them into birdie holes instead of bogey holes.
“There are great facilities down here. The golf course is excellent. Looks ready to go, everything about it. I’ve been playing nicely. Got my head on. Know what I’m doing. I feel good about where I’m at and where my game is going.”