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How an ‘angry and frustrated’ Thorbjorn Olesen took down Jordan Spieth

Thorbjorn Olesen had a tricky start to his Ryder Cup debut in 2018, but as he told NCG’s Matt Chivers, his week reignited on Sunday afternoon against Jordan Spieth

 

Thorbjorn Olesen did a lot of sitting around on his Ryder Cup debut.

Europe were 3-1 down after session one in 2018 as he and Rory McIlroy were convincingly beaten by Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler.

Captain Thomas Bjorn had to call upon the big guns.

McIlroy was reunited with Ian Poulter, Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson were back and Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood continued to shine.

Europe responded by taking seven of the next eight matches at Le Golf National, but Olesen was left out of each one and wasn’t seen again until Sunday.

Being sidelined took its toll on the Dane having been omitted by not just anyone, but a friend and compatriot.

A practice round with one of the vice-captains was required for Olesen to cool down and take stock of his lack of activity.

“It was tough for me,” he told NCG. “I guess in anything, you want to play, and you feel like you should play.

“It was a very difficult time to sit and see the other guys playing for so long. I would say luckily on Saturday I played a few holes, six or seven holes and Padraig Harrington, one of the vice captains, went out with me and we had a nice chat that calmed me down.

“It made it better, but with Thomas also being captain and being a really good friend of mine, it’s a tough decision for him. And we’ve talked about it a lot afterwards.

thorbjorn olesen ryder cup

“It’s not easy to sit out on your first time and you don’t really feel like you contribute to the team. You want to be out there and try and help the team and be a part of it. It was difficult.

“We obviously had a tough Friday morning also. Rory and I didn’t play well enough and didn’t get points and this got Thomas under pressure a little bit early on, and he felt like he had to play some of the key players.

“In the present, you get angry and frustrated and you want to play but looking back, I can see the decisions.”

A singles session with Jordan Spieth

The 33-year-old had qualified automatically after overcoming pressure he’d never felt before when coming tied 20th at the Made In Denmark, the last ranking event, to seal his spot.

He was one of five rookies as Tyrrell Hatton, Jon Rahm and Tommy Fleetwood were also playing for the first time – players who’ve since become staples of Team Europe. His fellow Scandinavian Alex Noren qualified automatically as well.

Olesen’s win at the Italian Open three months earlier was impressive too, but he was only able to affect a quarter of the first two days of his much-anticipated Team Europe bow.

He was presented with a golden opportunity to prove his worth when he was drawn to face Jordan Spieth in the singles.

Harnessing his anger and frustration, Olesen inflicted the American’s third consecutive singles defeat. Spieth has earned half a point in four individual Ryder Cup matches in his career to this point.

It might’ve been match seven, but it was the fifth match complete after this 5&4 drubbing on a three-time major champion – taking Europe a step closer to another victory on home turf.

“I was pretty hyped up and all I could think about was going out to play for myself and to prove to myself that there was a reason why I was on this team. And I could go out and make points,” he added.

“It was a very important match for me. It would have been hard not to make any points and then you’re just trying to win the whole thing.

“But it’s a different feeling when you’ve been a part and earned a point as well. So that was a great match from start to finish.

“It was more to myself. And I didn’t think about playing for the team and the captain, I was thinking about just going out for myself and to prove that I deserved to be here, and I could win points.”

And that was the Thorbjorn Olesen’s Ryder Cup debut! What are your memories of the Ryder Cup 2018? Tell us on X, formerly Twitter!

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Matt Chivers

Matt Chivers

Now on the wrong side of 25, Matt has been playing golf since the age of 13 and was largely inspired to take up the game by countless family members who played golf during his childhood.

Matt is a member at Royal Cinque Ports in Deal playing off a 5 handicap, just a pitching wedge away from his hometown of Dover where he went to school and grew up. He has previously been a member at Etchinghill and Walmer and Kingsdown in Kent.

Having studied history at the University of Liverpool, Matt went on to pass his NCTJ Exams in Manchester a year later to fulfil his lifelong ambition of becoming a journalist. He picked up work experience along the way at places such as the Racing Post, the Independent, Sportsbeat and the Lancashire Evening Post.

Matt joined NCG in February 2023 and is the website’s main source of tour news, features and opinion. He has reported live from events such as The Open, the Ryder Cup and The Players Championship, having also interviewed and spoken to the likes of Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Henrik Stenson, to name just a few.

Consuming tour golf on what is a 24/7 basis, you can come to Matt for informed views on the game and the latest updates on the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and LIV Golf.

What’s in Matt’s bag: Cobra LTDx LS driver, Cobra LTDx 3-wood, TaylorMade P7MC irons, Ping Glide 4.0 wedges, Odyssey putter.

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