Thorbjørn Olesen claimed his sixth DP World Tour title - and his first for almost four years – after he produced a sensational eagle-birdie finish for the second day running to win the 2022 Betfred British Masters hosted by Danny Willett by one shot after a drama-filled final round.
The Dane began the day with a three-shot lead at The Belfry but trailed by two with two holes to play, before he followed a 28-foot eagle at the par-five 17th with a 36-footer for birdie at the 18th to celebrate a memorable victory and deny Sebastian Soderberg, who had earlier set the clubhouse target at nine under.
Olesen began his round with a bogey after an errant tee shot, and despite a birdie at the par-five third saw him return to his overnight mark of 11 under, he hit several hooks as he made further bogeys at the ninth and tenth to turn in a three over 38.
And after he was caught by the chasing pack early into the back nine, back-to-back bogeys at the 14th and 15th appeared to drop him out of contention as Soderberg made four birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine to card a 68.
But an inspired Olesen repeated his heroics from Saturday over the closing two holes once again to snatch victory in front of a sold-out crowd at the Brabazon Course.
Richie Ramsay had earlier looked set for victory when he birdied the 17th to reach 10 under, before he ran up a double bogey at the 18th after finding the water with his approach shot to finish third on eight under, alongside fellow Scot Connor Syme and South Africa’s Justin Walters, with Challenge Tour Graduates Chase Hanna and Hurly Long a further shot back in a share of fifth.
Olesen said on Saturday evening he expected to feel the nerves as he sought to win for the first time since victory at the 2018 Italian Open and so it proved, but his experience helped him to remain in contention before his stirring finish saw him take the acclaim of the 15,000 strong crowd.
Victory sees him move up to tenth on the DP World Tour Rankings in Partnership with Rolex, up from 78th, and become the second Dane after Thomas Bjørn in 2015 to win the event, which boasts an illustrious roll of honour.
“It’s a massive tournament won by so many great names so it’s a privilege to have my name on the trophy,” Olesen said.
“It was obviously a pretty tough day and hit a lot of shots to the left. I was really struggling. I somehow just kept going, and yeah, what a finish. Incredible.
“Standing on 17, I’m thinking I can make birdie, birdie and maybe get into a play-off. But obviously when I got the chance on 17, I prefer to take that. 18 is a tough hole, so par is a good score obviously. I just gave it everything.”
Soderberg entered the final round six shots off the lead but as many struggled under the test of the four-time Ryder Cup, the Swede impressed with an assured closing 68 as he seemed set to add a second DP World Tour title to his maiden victory at the Omega European Masters in Crans-Montana in 2019.
A birdie at the par-five fourth was cancelled out by a bogey at the par-four eighth as the 31-year-old turned in level par to stay at his overnight mark of five under.
But his round ignited into life on the back nine as he followed a birdie at the signature short par four tenth with three consecutive birdies from the 13th through to the 15th, before three pars saw him emerge from the chasing pack to set the clubhouse target at nine under and face an anxious wait.
And it was only Olesen's fantastic late flourish that denied him what would have been an unlikely victory at the outset of the day.
Ramsay, who won the most recent of his three DP World Tour titles at the 2015 Trophee Hassan II, mixed four birdies with a bogey and a closing double bogey to card a 71.
Syme, yet to land his maiden title, made six birdies in a 70 which also featured two bogeys and a double bogey, while Walters, who lost in a play-off at the ISPS HANDA UK Championship at The Belfry in 2020, combined four birdies with three dropped shots for 71.
American Hanna, who finished second at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in March, carded a 72, while halfway leader Long from Germany registered a 73.