• Sicilian Open, Round Four

Olesen holds nerve to claim maiden title

ESPN staff
April 1, 2012
Thorbjorn Olesen was runner-up on three occasions in 2011 - but is now a European Tour winner © Getty Images


Thorbjorn Olesen overcame nerves and a strong challenge from Englishman Chris Wood to claim his maiden European Tour title with a one-shot victory at the Sicilian Open.

Heading into the final round with a three-shot lead, the young Dane saw his advantage eroded entirely before he even teed off by the prolific Wood, as the two engaged in a shootout for much of Sunday afternoon.

Unfortunately, a bogey on the 17th ultimately put paid to Wood's chances, as Olesen held his nerve to finish with four consecutive pars and claim a narrowest of victories at 15-under.

At one point it looked like Wood - also chasing his first European Tour victory - was about to card the first round of 59 in tour history, after he reached five-under after five holes and moved to nine-under by the 14th. But another birdie would not be forthcoming, as he eventually slipped up on the 17th on the way to a course record of 64 and 14-under total.

Olesen, constantly forced to keep up with Wood's pace, eventually finished with a final round of 69 at Verdura Golf Resort & Spa.

"It feels amazing," Olesen said. "I had three seconds last year, so to finally get my first win is great.

"I've been playing some great golf this year, without all parts of my game coming together. But this week my long and short game both came together, and it feels fantastic to finally get over the line."

It was an eventful round for the 22-year-old, who had just two pars on the front nine after bogeying the first in a tentative start. He bounced back with birdies at the second and fourth, before dropping his second shot of the day at the fifth. Three birdies in the next four holes to the turn then kept Olesen on terms with Wood.

With other challengers falling away, Wood and Olesen were left to go head-to-head. After the Englishman set a target of 14-under in the clubhouse Olesen knew what he had to do, and ultimately a straightforward birdie at the par-five 14th proved crucial as he put his nose in front, edging to victory with the four pars he needed - two-putting at the last after firing his approach safely into the heart of the green.

"I saw he [Wood] was doing well when I arrived at the ninth, so I knew I had to go for it and make birdies, so it kind of made up my mind for me that I had to play attacking golf," Olesen added. "I was definitely a bit nervous. I was just trying to focus on one shot at a time, but that's very difficult to do because your mind keeps thinking of other things.

"But I'm really happy to finish with a par on 18, because it's a really tough golf hole. So when I found the green with my second shot, I was very happy."

Wood was pleased with his display, despite coming up agonisingly short.

"It's been coming for a while," Wood said of his round. "I've been playing really well lately and not getting the scores. It's nice to play well and give myself a chance. The 17th I got a little bit unlucky and ended up in position 'Z'."

Another Dane, Soren Kjeldsen, finished third at 12-under - alongside Belgium's Nicolas Colsaerts, with Jose Manuel Lara a shot further back in fifth.

Americans Rich Beem and John Daly were among a number of players in an eight-way tie for 11th at eight-under, which also included young Englishman Tom Lewis and Northern Ireland's Gareth Maybin.

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