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In-form Olesen plays it cool in Gothenburg

August 15, 2018

Thorbjørn Olesen has arrived in Gothenburg as the in-form player, but the Dane is reluctant to admit he is the favourite for the Nordea Masters title.

In-form Olesen plays it cool in Gothenburg, © Getty Images

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“There are a lot of good players in this field. Obviously I've had a lot of good weeks the last three months but there's a guy here (Martin Kaymer) who has won a couple of Majors and I'm guessing ten or 15 tournaments. I would say he's more favourite than I am but with the form I've had and how much I love playing in Sweden I would put myself among the favourites."

“For me, it's an iconic event. Growing up and being from Denmark it's a tournament that I've always watched on TV, a lot of big players have won and contended here. It was also my first European Tour event, so it's a special week for me and a tournament that I would love to do well in."

Olesen will tee it up at Hills Golf Club after five top 12s in his last eight events, including his maiden Rolex Series victory at the Italian Open and a tied third place finish at the WGC-Bridgestone Championship two weeks ago.

The five-time European Tour winner is entering a crucial period in his season – with just three events remaining in which to gather Ryder Cup points, Olesen sits on the edge of the automatic qualifying positions on both the European and World Points Lists, and victory this week could go along way towards sealing his place in the European Team at Le Golf National in September.

“It's obviously difficult not to think about The Ryder Cup. I'm trying not to think about it at all. The tournaments have been so big, with the Majors and Rolex Series events I want to do well in. Obviously I want to win a Major at some point in my career, it's my biggest goal."

"In that way it's been a bit easier to keep the Ryder Cup away, but it is difficult. I would love to be in Paris, to play for Europe. I can only go out every day and try to play good golf and show that I'm good enough for the team.”

One player who could stand in Olesen's way this week is two-time Major winner and former World Number One Martin Kaymer. The German is returning to the Nordea Masters for the first time in ten years, but has a fine record from his two previous appearances, finishing second behind Finland's Mikko Ilonen as a rookie in 2007 and 14th the following year.

As he goes in search of a 12th European Tour title, the veteran of four Ryder Cup teams believes he's not even half way through his career and can't wait to tee it up in front of the welcoming Swedish fans.

“I'm on the seventh hole of my career, hopefully. You need some time to get to know and place yourself in the world of golf. In the beginning you can't know, you have zero experience. Then you play around the world and measure your game with the best in the world. Then you see good results and in my case underestimate yourself a little."

"All of a sudden you win a Major, you play a vital role in Ryder Cups, you win your second Major. Then you need to adjust because it's sometimes overwhelming and not understandable. That realisation took me a long time, that's why I would say I'm on the seventh hole, maybe seventh green."

“The first time I played here I had a good chance but Mikko Ilonen won. I remember because my brother was caddying for me and it was my first year on tour. It was a very nice start to my professional career. Also to do that in Sweden because I always liked coming here for many reasons."

Also in the field this week are European Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjørn and one of his five Vice Captains, home favourite Robert Karlsson. The former European Number One is amongst 34 Swedes in the field this week, including recent European Tour winners Alexander Björk and Joakim Lagergren.

Two-time Ryder Cup player David Howell of England will mark a major milestone when he makes his 600 th European Tour appearance, while Italy's Renato Paratore is aiming to become the first player to win the Nordea Masters in consecutive years.