Thorbjorn Olesen shot a course record 62 to take a six shot lead in the last two rounds of the Turkish Airlines Open and vowed to remain aggressive.
It’s the modern way, as Pádraig Harrington pointed out after his 69 left him 14 strokes adrift on one under par.
Having seen the best up close as a buggy driver for Danish compatriot, vice-captain Thomas Bjorn at the Ryder Cup, Harrington reckons Olesen will have learnt a huge amount about where he is in the game and what he needs to do.
“I’d say he probably learnt quite a bit about his own game,” Harrington said after a round that saw him sandwich four successive birdies from his ninth hole between a pair of clumsy three putts and a somewhat untidy bogey at the last.
“When you are that close and watching other players, I am sure he could see he is every bit as good as them and in some ways better. That will have helped him.
“I think it is a good learning experience for anybody, to be around in a situation like that with the best players in Europe playing in the Ryder Cup and you are around them and see their strengths and weaknesses and you understand you have strengths and weaknesses and maybe not to be focussing on your own weakness so much because you can see that nobody’s perfect.”
Harrington will have seen this week that he needs to hit the ball higher to compete better on a long course with firm, undulating greens.
“It’s a long course, it’s tough on the greens, you’ve a lot of putts up and over slopes and things like that so it’s modern golf, isn’t it?” he said when asked about the 4:40 round time and slow play.
“The way golf courses are designed. We’re always walking back to the tee boxes. if you want a quick course you should have the tees forward, walking backwards only adds time and tee boxes here are designed for carts.
“Unfortunately, professional golf is not a very good role model for amateur golf or pace of play, that’s just the way it is. When I play with my kids they’re allowed one practice swing and they’ve got to hit it. You’re not going to see that happen out here.
"As i said, the length of the golf course, walking backwards, our etiquette, the stuff we do now that I got a clip across the ear for when I was a kid playing amateur golf for walking ahead of my playing partners, we play out of turn, we do everything we can to (speed up). Good etiquette, you’d never leave the green complex, you’d never walk ahead of them on the fairway.
"I remember when I started out on tour, I got a bollicking from another pro when he was reading his putt I was reading my putt from the other side of the hole. It’s his putt, you don’t see that any more, everyone is reading their putt at all times.
"I think players just do a lot more now than before because the margins are so tight, it is a very ver fine line. Even I now, I’ve succumbed to lining up my golf ball on the green with a line, that takes time.
"To compete you’re got to give everything which gives you whatever edge. It’s different for an amateur, he’s got a handicap. He’s allowed have a few mistakes. That’s why we’re probably not good role models."
The modern game is also a power game and while Olesen is my no means the longest hitter in Europe, he plays the aggressive game that Harrington sees as the key to competing with the modern stars like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Jason Day.
Asked about playing with younger players such as Tyrell Hatton, Andrew Beef Johnston and Alexander Levy over the first two days, Harrington didn’t like to make comparisons but point to the kind of golf that turns him on these day.
“They all have their good points but personally, if you want to be world No 1, you’ve got to be like Thomas Pieters and get your ball speed up in the 180s. You can come out here in the low 170s and compete but the future of the game is… like on this golf course you want to hit the ball a long way and high. So I am more attracted to that kind of stuff, if I see somebody really crunching it on the range, then they have potential.”
Harrington believes that what Olesen saw at the Ryder Cup was that the even the best players are not perfect — a point he might have made to Hatton or Levy as they berated themselves for their mistakes, big and small, in round two.
“Thorbjorn has a golf game to compete with anybody on any stage in the world,” Harrington said. “The only thing that will hold him back is his own frustrations at a lack of perfection on any given shot and that gets in on him.
“When he goes and watches other players and understands that the best players, playing well, make plenty of mistakes. That will make it easier for him to make a mistake and not get down on himself. He’s got a great swing and strikes the ball great so with him, it really does all come down to attitude.”
Harrington was upbeat despite fluffing a chip at his final hole and closing with a bogey and a 69 that moved him up 17 places to tied 41st on one under par.
Having started on the 11th, he made four pars, then got up and down for birdie from just short of the par-five 15th.
He did well not to three putt the 16th, where his tough putt up a steep tier ran six feet past. But he did three putted the next, running a 20 footer five feet by.
After a pars at the 18th, he birdied the first, second, third and fourth, missed a 10 footer at the fifth and was two over for his last four holes, three-putting the sixth from just off the green before failing to get up and down with a straight-forward chip at the last having escaped a watery grave off the tee by the slimmest of margins.
“Up until the last hole, I had a birdie putt on every hole,” said the Dubliner. “I was staying nice and patient, holed those four birdie putts in a row, just missed a short one on the fifth (10 feet) for five in a row. Three putted the sixth (second three putt of the day) and then missed the last green.
“Maybe I hadn’t had any chips all day that I just didn’t see the shot [on 18] at all. From the edge of the green, you know what if it was a difficult chip I probably would have got it up and down. It was too easy....I didn’t see it. As I said, if it was a difficult shot i probably would have been easier to see and play.”
Harrington’s habit of lining up his putts with the line on his ball has added another layer to his routine but he has still been caught out by the pace of the greens at Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort.
“I am putting well, so I am not being tentative,” he said. “But several putts today I’m thinking, ‘break or don’t break’ and all of a sudden I am four or five feet by. That’s another thing. When the pace of the greens is quick, there are a lot of second putts.
“On slow greens, everyone puts up and taps in. On fast greens, undulating greens, you’re left with four or five footers and have to pay attention to what you are doing.
As for the leader, the 26 year old finished with four birdies and an eagle in his final six holes to open a sizeable gap at the top in the opening tournament of the European Tour’s Final Series.
Currently 38th in the Race to Dubai, Olesen knows a victory in the sun-kissed Belek region in southern Turkey could move him into the top ten and into contention for the €5million bonus pool at the conclusion of the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.
Leading the chasing pack heading into the weekend were Spaniard Adrian Otaegui and Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand, who shared second place on nine under par after respective rounds of 63 and 66.
England's David Horsey (67), Sweden’s Joakim Lagergren (64), Haotong Li of China and Italian Matteo Manassero (both 68) were all a shot further back on eight under.
“I think I found something in Portugal, I was playing really well. I didn't score that well, but I felt like I was playing a lot better, so I was hoping for something good to come. Yesterday was a great putting display, and today I played better and still putted great, so it's been a couple of good days.
“For the eagle, I hit a loose three-wood from the tee, really just got out of it, and then had a tricky lie and hit a great shot around a pole- a low fade around up to 15 feet, 20 feet, and holed a great putt. That will definitely keep your round going. You can easily make a five from there instead of a three, so that was definitely the shot of the day.
“I feel like I've been up in contention in a lot of big events so I feel pretty comfortable. There are still 36 holes to go, so that's a lot of golf to be played but I have to keep being aggressive out there, keep going after some of the pins and try to make birdies. That's the only way I can win.”
“I'm very happy with today's round. I felt very good from the beginning to the end - I started with five consecutive birdies. I just tried to not think on anything, just tried to keep the momentum and work.
“I was just thinking about shot after shot. It's good when golf is easy so I really enjoyed it. We had good weather and everything is good.
“One of the first goals this year was to play in the Final Series and play this wonderful event so now that I am here, let's enjoy it.”
“I played well, putting well and hitting the ball very good. It was better than yesterday, one shot better than yesterday to be exact! I don't think I missed much today. I hit a lot of perfect shots, that's why five-under par has made me very happy today.
“I’ve had two very solid rounds - I could compare them with the French Open. I played good in the French Open, very consistent every day, so hopefully I can continue that this week. I’m really confident and putting well. I think the greens are a very good speed and I like them like this.”
“It was a good round today, very similar to yesterday, except yesterday I made a couple of long putts and that was it, that was the difference.
“Obviously it's never easy the second round. After starting well at a tournament, you want to keep yourself up on top of the leaderboard and that's what I did, so I'm happy with my round. There are two more days, still a long way to go, but if I can keep my solid long game, I'll be happy with that.
“It would be a great way to finish the season, playing well here and getting myself into Dubai, but I’m not too concerned about that - I just want to have a good week here.”
Scores after round two
127 T Olesen (Den) 65 62,
133 T Jaidee (Tha) 67 66, A Otaegui (Esp) 70 63,
134 J Lagergren (Swe) 70 64, D Horsey (Eng) 67 67, L Haotong (Chn) 66 68, M Manassero (Ita) 66 68,
135 J Campillo (Esp) 66 69, D Drysdale (Sco) 67 68,
136 B Wiesberger (Aut) 66 70, P Larrazábal (Esp) 67 69, D Lipsky (USA) 67 69,
137 G Coetzee (RSA) 64 73, R Rock (Eng) 69 68, J Wang (Kor) 67 70, B An (Kor) 68 69, J Morrison (Eng) 70 67, N Elvira (Esp) 70 67,
138 L Slattery (Eng) 69 69, R Jacquelin (Fra) 69 69, J Walters (RSA) 68 70, R Karlsson (Swe) 70 68, A Sullivan (Eng) 71 67, R Bland (Eng) 70 68, G Havret (Fra) 69 69, R Gouveia (Por) 70 68,
139 J Quesne (Fra) 68 71, K Aphibarnrat (Tha) 72 67, T Hatton (Eng) 72 67, F Aguilar (Chi) 67 72, R Ramsay (Sco) 71 68, P Lawrie (Sco) 69 70, N Colsaerts (Bel) 70 69,
140 W Ashun (Chn) 70 70, L Westwood (Eng) 70 70, R Wattel (Fra) 69 71, A Johnston (Eng) 71 69, M Ilonen (Fin) 74 66, S Hend (Aus) 68 72, N Bertasio (Ita) 69 71,
141 R Sterne (RSA) 71 70, M Korhonen (Fin) 70 71, P Harrington (Irl) 72 69, S Kjeldsen (Den) 69 72, A Cañizares (Esp) 70 71, C Paisley (Eng) 71 70, V Dubuisson (Fra) 72 69, L Bjerregaard (Den) 67 74, P Edberg (Swe) 72 69, B Stone (RSA) 73 68, M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 70 71,
142 G Bourdy (Fra) 72 70, T Fleetwood (Eng) 71 71, R Paratore (Ita) 71 71, B Hebert (Fra) 70 72, J Carlsson (Swe) 68 74, L Jensen (Den) 71 71,
143 D Fichardt (RSA) 70 73, D Brooks (Eng) 71 72, O Fisher (Eng) 73 70, S Chawrasia (Ind) 74 69, D Willett (Eng) 69 74, M Warren (Sco) 68 75, C Shinkwin (Eng) 71 72, A Lahiri (Ind) 72 71,
144 M Southgate (Eng) 72 72, M Carlsson (Swe) 70 74, F Zanotti (Par) 70 74,
145 A Altuntas (am) (Tur) 74 71,
146 M Kieffer (Ger) 73 73, N Holman (Aus) 75 71, T Aiken (RSA) 71 75, A Levy (Fra) 72 74,
148 H Porteous (RSA) 72 76, J Van Zyl (RSA) 76 72,
153 L Acikalin (am) (Tur) 75 78,
156 M Guner (am) (Tur) 81 75,
157 M Siem (Ger) 80 77