COLDFIELD, SUTTON, ENGLAND — Thorbjorn Olesen scored a 6-under 66 to share the lead after the first round of the British Masters on Thursday, aiming to end a four-year title drought and resurrect his career following a tumultuous legal battle.
Olesen last won in June 2018 at the Italian Open. After being accused of sexually assaulting a woman and being intoxicated on a flight following a World Golf Championships event in Tennessee, he was suspended by the European Tour the following year.
A judge acquitted Olesen in December after he claimed he had no memory of his actions since he had been drinking and using sleeping pills. The case had a “devastating influence” on the Danish player’s career, as he had fallen from No. 62 at the time of the incidents to No. 62 now.
Olesen, who is currently rated No. 376, has yet to place higher than a tie for 12th in any of his seven DP World Tour tournaments this year, but he is off to a solid start in this week’s tournament at The Belfry, a course in central England that has hosted the Ryder Cup.
After starting among the morning starters, Olesen birdied three of his first six holes and three of his last six holes in a bogey-free round. He and Ryan Fox of New Zealand were tied for first place.
“Obviously, you have to be in the moment,” Olesen said. “But it’s been a long time since I’ve been in the winner’s circle, and that’s my major goal this year.” “I know there is a lot of work to be done because I haven’t been working hard enough for a few years to get at that level.”
“There have been times when you doubt your ability to return, so it comes down to confidence and belief, and there have been a few difficult days.” But I think I’m on the right course again, and I’m starting to put up a team that can help me again — I think that’s critical.”
Hurly Long, Ashun Wu, and Richie Ramsay were three strokes behind Olesen and Fox.
Rasmus Hojgaard, Justin Walters, Edoardo Molinari, and Brandon Stone were in a four-way tie for sixth place at 4 under, two strokes behind the lead.