Sicilian Open reports by English golf writer Graham Otway
Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen secures his first career victory with a closing 69 at Verdura
Fourth round report by English golf writer Graham Otway
Despite a substantial late charge up the leaderboard from England’s Chris Wood Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen secured his first European Tour victory by winning the Sicilian Open.
Wood took full advantage of a beautiful sunny and windless day at the Verdura Resort and Spa to shoot an eight under par 64 and set the clubhouse target at 14 under par.
Woods round which included seven birdies and an eagle equalled the score shot by Irishman Peter Lawrie in the first round and 64 will now be regarded as the professional record for the composite course put together from Verdura’s East and West courses.
However the Englishman still found himself one shot short of catching Olesen, the 22-year-old who had led the tournament by three shots going into the final round.
With a record of three second place finishes in 2011, his first season on the European Tour when he finished 48th on the Race to Dubai money list, Olesen has for some time been identified as a winner in waiting.
And although he held a one shot lead with two holes to play when Wood finished his round he showed his pedigree and cool nerve by making par at them both. Indeed he was unlucky not to birdie the 17th where he hit a superb approach to just five feet.
“I feel amazing,” said Olesen. “After finish second three times last I was hoping it would not be long before I crossed the finishing line.
“I have played some great golf already this year but this week my short game and my long game came together.
“I was a bit nervous out there and hit a couple of bad putts but in the end I was really pleased with the way I played the 18th . I knew I was in the lead and it’s a very tough hole.
“But that is Verdura. The Resort is fantastic. The golf course is great, the hotel is fantastic and the food wonderful and I love my food.”
Woods was left finishing in second place with the big hitting Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts two shots further back in third place alongside another dane Soren Kjeldsen.
Five top tips from those who played in The Sicilian Open
Thorbjorn Olesen (The winner)
Verdura is such a scenic course with so many great views its easy to get carried away, so it is very important to concentrate on every single golf shot.
John Daly (former winner of the British Open)
Verdura is a very long course but the fairways are fairly generous. So take out the driver and play aggressively from the tees, it will make the second shots a lot shorter.
Matteo Manassero (Italian teenager with two European Tour wins)
Playing the tenth hole drive to the right of the bunker in the middle of the fairway. Its a smaller landing area but sets up the best angle in to a tough sloping green.
Phillip Price (European Ryder Cup winner)
When playing the holes that run by the Mediterranean do not think about the water or your ball is likely to end up it. Think about what you want to avhieve not what you want to avoid.
Barry Lane (Veteran of more than 670 European tournaments)
When driving off the ninth tee beware of the bunkers - the only real hazards on the hole. Lay up short and then run the second shot into an unguarded green.
Olesen defies the Verdura wind to open up a three shot lead in the Sicilian Open
Third round report by English golf writer Graham Otway
Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen was one of only a few players to cope with a stiff sea breeze at Verdura as he shot a five under par 67 in the third round of the Sicilian Open.
That performance earned the 22-year-old a three shot advantage at the top of the leaderboard and the chance to record his first victory on the Europe Tour.
And should he achieve that in the fourth round it will come as no surprise since in 2011, his first season on Tour, he finished in second place three times and earned more than 637,000 Euro to finish 48th in the Race to Dubai money list.
Olesen proved he is a good player in wind when he finished tied for second at last year’s French Open and he is clearly a player with a very bright future.
“It was definitely not easy out there, but I played great,” Olesen said after a round which included an eagle at the par five 14th hole after hitting his 215 approach shot to just 15 feet.
“And I am confident in my play for the final round but I do know there are a lot of good guys up there and I’m going to have to do my best.”
Olesen leads from the Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts and Canadian Adrew Parr who shared second place at nine under par.
And Colsearts could be the biggest danger. The 29-year-old from Brussels is currently recognised as the longest hitter on the European Tour and has the power to cope with the wind should it blow for a second day running.
And, unlike Olesen who at one stage in the third round felt his cap being blown off by the wind, he has won before having taken the China Open title in 2011.
Peter Lawrie the first and second round leader shot a level par 72 and is only four strokes behind Olesen.
Briefly during the third round American John Daly got to within one shot of the lead but two late mistakes limited his score to a level par 72 and he will start the fourth day six shots off the lead.
The weather on the second day at Verdura holds back Europe’s top golfers
The Sicilian Open second round report from English golf writer Graham Otway
The natural defences of the Verdura golf courses halted the progress of many of Europe’s top golfers during the second round of the Sicilian Open.
After Peter Lawrie had set the first round standard with an eight under par 64, the score at the top of the leaderboard refused to rise by a single shot during the whole of the second day.
Lawrie could only manage to follow up his opening round with a level par 72 and at the halfway stage of the tournament found himself joined in the lead by England’s David Lynn and Simon Wakefield, the Welshman Jamie Donaldson, Martin LeFeber from the Netherlands and Pelle Edberg of Sweden.
And while another day of cloudless skies and sunshine again showed the wonderful beauty of the Verdura resort to the world on SKY television, some not so obvious weather patterns seriously affected the scoring.
When Lawrie turned up for his 8.10 am start time on the tenth tee it was chilly enough for many of the early starters to be wearing pullovers, and the golf ball would not fly far through the cold air. Dew on the grass meant the balls would not run along the ground either.
Lawrie summed up the conditions saying“On the tenth hole I hit a driver and nine iron with no wind in the first round. But today when there was still no wind I needed a five iron to get to the green.”
Although temperatures arose through the morning around lunch a breeze gusting at up to 15 miles an hour drifted over the course from the neighbouring Mediterranean Ocean and that made the conditions tough for many of the later starters.
There was , however, one big named exception . The American John Daly who won the British Open Championship at St Andrews in 1995 had five birdies and an eagle in a 67 which took him to within two shots of the lead.
First Round Report
Ireland’s Peter Lawrie took the lead at the Sicilian Open after he shot an eight under par 64 as a wonderful sun-kissed and wind free day at Verdura made for a low scoring first round.
A week after celebrating his 38th birthday the Dubliner opened up a one-stroke lead over Wales Jamie Donaldson, Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen and Argentina’s Tano Goya who all signed for 65s.
It was a sudden return to form for Lawrie, a former winner of the Spanish Open but currently lying a lowly 140th in the European Tour’s new 2012 Race to Dubai money list after six events.
Lawrie, however, was quick to point out how the smooth putting surfaces on Verdura’s composite course had helped reboot his confidence.
“On the eighth and ninth greens I sank two 20 foot putts for birdie,” he said after signing a card which contained nine birdies.
“I don’t think I holed a putt like that all last year or before this year. But those two putts set the tone for my round, they gave me a lot of confidence with the putter.”
Kjeldsen’s, a former winner of Europe’s end of season Volvo Masters played early in the morning when after a cold start the warm calm conditions were a signal for Europe’s Tour pros to shoot low.
A typical breeze began to blow in off the Mediterranean around lunchtime but then died back and in perfect conditions for golf the scoreboards were filled with birdies for the rest of the day.
The appearance of Donaldson in joint second place on the leaderboard was not a surprise.
Last Sunday at the Trophee Hassan 11 in Morocco he shot a course record 61 and yesterday’s birdie haul meant he was an incredible 18 under par for two rounds of golf played in two countries only four days apart.
The only disappointment of the day for the enthusiastic crowds following the action was the form of Italian 18-year-old Matteo Manassero who had set his heart on winning in Italy after failing to qualify for The Masters in America next week.
He need two birdies in his final three holes just to be able to sign for a level par 72 which puts him in danger of failing to make the cut in front of his home fans.
But Manassero had nothing but praise for the Verdura course saying “It was in first class condition. Everything here, the course and the hotel is just great.”