Golf: Olesen holds nerve to bag Turkish million

BELEK (AFP) – Denmark s Thorbjorn Olesen held on after his seven-shot lead was reduced to one to capture the Turkish Airlines Open s one million euro winner s cheque at Belek on Sunday.

Olesen, 26 eventually won by three strokes with a fourth round of 69 for a 20-under par tally of 264 on the Regnun Carya course.

It was Olesen s fourth European Tour success and it took his career earnings through the seven million euro barrier in his seventh season on the tour.

“It was a weird feeling coming out today knowing I was leading by seven as I knew the guys would shoot a low number today, so I had to go out and see if I could make a few birdies,” he said.

“After nine holes there were a few guys shooting low numbers so all of a sudden there was a lot of pressure on me.

“But I tried to play steady and clearly the last four holes were tough mentally and it was really difficult.”

The London-based player jumped from 32nd to ninth on the Race to Dubai.

Olesen s biggest challenge came from England s David Horsey who had managed to cut the Dane s lead to just one shot in racing to six under par for his round through 12 holes.

Horsey went into the last day sharing second place at 11-under par and while he birdied the 15th to go to 18-under the Englishman dropped a shot at the next to eventually shoot a round of 65 and share second place on 17-under par.

Joining Horsey in second spot was China s Li Haotong who capped a similar last round 65 with four birdies in succession from his 14th hole.

Olesen had been level par over his outward nine with one birdie and a bogey before finally answering Horsey s charge with birdies at the 12th, 14th and 15th and while he bogeyed the 16th it was still good enough to secure the biggest purse of his eight-year pro career.

“I was watching the leader boards around the course and I knew what I had to do, and even though my lead was down from seven shots to one, it does put pressure on you,” he said.

“But to win this event means a lot to me as the last three to four months my game has been pretty poor, and I haven t played well.”

Horsey s effort was his best finish since winning a fourth Tour title in August last year in Denmark.

“I thought, if I could get to sort of 20, that would be a reasonable effort and put a little bit of pressure on Thorbjorn,” said Horsey.

Li, 21 also secured the biggest cheque of his European Tour career, some 100,000 euros more than capturing the Volvo China Open this year.

The effort has seen the Shanghai-born Li move to 41st on the Race to Dubai.

“It s fantastic for me,” he said.

“I already do my best, and just like I said yesterday, only top five is really, really good for me.”

Masters Champion Danny Willett failed to regain his Race to Dubai lead with a closing round 75 for a disappointing two over par tally.

Willett needed to finish fifth or higher to go past the absent Henrik Stenson but ended the Turkey event sharing 68th place.

Both Stenson and Willett will be contesting next week s Nedbank Challenge at Sun City in South Africa and the second of the Tour s Final Series.