The future stars of Danish and indeed European golf were on display in Horsens on Friday, but the crowds had only come to see one man: Thorbjørn Olesen.
Olesen was conducting a clinic on the range at Stensballegaard Golf, going through the wide array of shots which have served him so well in his rapid rise from the Nordic League to The European Tour via the Challenge Tour.
A winner of titles on all three Tours, Olesen is undoubtedly the heir apparent to the man whose name graces this week’s tournament, the ECCO Tour Championship hosted by Thomas Björn & Mercedes-Benz.
Like Björn before him, Olesen enjoyed outstanding success on the Challenge Tour in 2010, winning The Princess and recording a further four top five finishes en route to finishing the season in third place in the Rankings.
Further success swiftly followed on The European Tour, as he finished in the top 50 of The Race to Dubai in his debut campaign in 2010 and claimed his maiden title at this year’s Sicilian Open to climb to 25th in the current Money List.
The 22 year old is thus expertly placed to espouse the benefits of receiving an education in Europe’s finest finishing school.
He said: “The Challenge Tour is very important in preparing players for life as a pro – I learned so much on the Tour two years ago. It’s a great school and the best preparation you can have before going on to the main Tour. Travelling all over the world and competing against very strong players every week makes you grow up and adapt very fast. It’s very tough to finish in the top 20 of the Rankings, so you know that if you manage it you’ve had a good season and you deserve to be given an opportunity to move up to the main Tour.
“My win in Sweden was huge for my development as a golfer. When you win on the Challenge Tour, you believe you can win on any Tour. I took a lot of confidence with me onto The European Tour after winning on the Challenge Tour and finishing third in the Rankings in 2010, and had a good first season on the main Tour. This season I’ve played some really consistent golf and managed to get my first win in Sicily, and without the Challenge Tour I would not have adapted so fast.”
Olesen’s success has inspired the next generation of Danish golfers to follow his lead, with the likes of Lucas Bjerregaard, Joachim B Hansen and Morten Orum Madsen all making highly encouraging starts to their fledgling professional careers.
“Don’t go changing,” would be Olesen’s advice to the talented trio as they try to make their way in the game.
He said: “The future for Danish golf is looking pretty good at the moment. You have the likes of Morten, Lucas and Joachim coming through, so it’s a really exciting time for Danish golf and I look forward to seeing some of them on The European Tour over the next few years. They’re definitely good enough, they just have to keep working hard and believing in themselves, and not change too much.
“Just because you get onto the main Tour, you don’t have to change coaches or change the routines that got you there in the first place. If you’ve played well enough over the season to finish in the top 20 of the Challenge Tour, you’re definitely good enough to play on the main Tour.
“We’ve seen this season how strong the guys who come up from the Challenge Tour are, with Bernd [wiesberger] winning twice and Branden [Grace] winning three times. It should give the guys playing on the Challenge Tour this year the confidence to believe that they can do it too.”