Thorbjorn Olesen (Getty Images)
Dane Thorbjørn Olesen shot into the top ten of the European Tour’s Race to Dubai Rankings after posting four sensational rounds of sub-69 to claim his fifth European Tour title at the Italian Open, while the Race to Dubai welcomed a new leader in the shape of Italy’s Francesco Molinari who took the runner-up spot.
Olesen came into the tournament looking to find some consistent form having only placed in the top ten once in ten events and the 28-year-old got the ball rolling right from the off at Gardagolf Country Club with a sublime first round 65. Rounds of 68, 65 and a magical 64 followed to claim a one-stroke victory over home favourite Molinari. Olesen picks up 1,166,660 Race to Dubai points with his triumph which sees him make significant strides from 110th to sixth in the Race to Dubai Rankings with a total of 1,285,495 points. The victory also emphatically books his place in the Race to Dubai’s grand finale which takes place at Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai from November 15-18.
“The Rolex Series has really given the European Tour a boost and what a superb show the players have put on this weekend,” said Nick Tarratt, Director European Tour International, Dubai. “We send our congratulations to Thorbjørn who shot four spectacular rounds to take the crown. Some of the golf we’ve witnessed so far this season is of a truly exceptional level and we can’t wait to see the top 60 players on the Race to Dubai Rankings to go toe-to-toe at the DP World Tour Championship.”
The former Turkish Airlines Open winner started the final round one shot behind playing partner Lee Slattery but got off to a flying start with a birdie on the first before gaining two more shots on the front nine. Olesen continued firing on all cylinders down the back the nine and added four more birdies to seal his first victory since 2016 at the second Rolex Series event of the 2018 season.
"To come into this Rolex Series and to do what I've done is amazing,” said Olesen. I had to come from behind and win which I haven't done in my career so far, so that was very special. It felt great to hole that putt on the last and to get that feeling of holing it when it really matters. This is exactly what I needed. Well, it's always what we need but right now for me it's great."
Meanwhile, Molinari’s second place finish, which came hot on the heels of his BMW PGA Championship victory last week, saw him receive 777,770 Race to Dubai points which moves him to the summit of the Race to Dubai Rankings. The Italian climbs above America’s Patrick Reed with a season total of 2,265,746 points.
Englishman Slattery put on a fine performance to finish just two behind Olesen in third place which saw him pick up 438,200 points to rocket up the Race to Dubai Rankings from 172nd to 31st with 492,899 points.
Ryder Cup Vice-Captains Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell were also big movers in the Rankings after fine displays in Italy. Both men picked up 250,000 points for a tied for fifth place finish which sees England’s Westwood move from 114th to 45th with a season total of 367,487 whilst Northern Irishman McDowell climbs from 188th to 47th on 364,000.
The DP World Tour Championship, Dubai takes place at Jumeirah Golf Estates from November 15-18.