With European Ryder Cup qualification entering its final week, Thorbjorn Olesen is in prime position to make his debut in the biennial matches. What’s more, he can clinch his spot on Thomas Bjorn’s squad in front of partisan crowds in his native country.
This week’s Made in Denmark represents the final event of the two-year qualifying window, with Olesen holding the eighth and final automatic spot by virtue of the World Points list. The Dane didn’t play last week in the Czech Republic, but he caught a break when Paul Casey, Ian Poulter and Rafael Cabrera-Bello failed to pass him in the standings with their play at The Northern Trust.
All three players could have supplanted Olesen for the final automatic spot with top-20 finishes in New Jersey, but none finished better than Poulter’s tie for 48th. All three are expected to play this week’s Dell Technologies Championship in Massachusetts, but that event will not count for European qualifying purposes.
The only avenue left to make a move in the standings is the tournament in Denmark, where Olesen will headline the field and will need to keep an eye on only two players. Both Eddie Pepperell and Matthew Fitzpatrick could theoretically pass Olesen in the standings, but both players would need to win the tournament to have a chance to do so.
It means that Olesen is the overwhelming favorite to become the fifth rookie out of eight automatic qualifiers for Bjorn’s squad, with Tyrrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm and Alex Noren already assured of making their Ryder Cup debuts next month. Olesen has finished T-12 or better in six of his last nine worldwide starts, including a win at the Italian Open and a T-3 finish at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
Should Olesen qualify automatically, it would mean that Bjorn will have some tough choices to make with his four captain’s picks on Sept. 5. In addition to Poulter, Casey and Cabrera-Bello, veterans Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson would also both require a pick to make the 12-man roster for Paris.