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Olesen faces anxious weekend in bid to seal Ryder Cup debut

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Olesen faces anxious weekend in bid to seal Ryder Cup debut
FILE PHOTO: Golf - European Tour - Nordea Masters - Hills GC, Gothenburg, Sweden - August 16, 2018 Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark on 12th tee during the first round. Anders Wiklund/TT News Agency/via REUTERS   -   Copyright  TT NEWS AGENCY(Reuters)
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LONDON (Reuters) – Home favourite Thorbjorn Olesen will have more on his mind than winning a sixth Tour title when he tees it up at the Silkeborg Ry Golf Club on Thursday.

The 28-year-old knows a strong showing at the Made in Denmark event will almost certainly seal a place in the European team for next month’s Ryder Cup but two rivals will be breathing down his neck.

Going into the last event to offer qualification points for compatriot Thomas Bjorn’s team, seven players have assured themselves a place in the 42nd edition of the bi-annual team event against the United States.

Olesen occupies the eighth and final automatic spot but is not yet guaranteed a place in the side. By Sunday evening he will know whether he is definitely in or will have to rely on one of Bjorn’s four wildcard picks.

A top-seven finish would be enough, although should he finish further down English duo Matt Fitzpatrick and Eddie Pepperell could sneak ahead of him if they win the title on Bjorn’s home course in central Denmark.

“There’s always a lot of pressure when we play in Denmark and probably a little bit extra this time,” Olesen told the European Tour website after this month’s Nordea Masters in Sweden.

“I’ve been playing great for three or four months so that will probably add a bit more pressure but if I can keep grinding and working like I did this week and last week to get better the results will come.”

Olesen has his destiny in his own hands and will be confident after his fourth-placed finish at the Nordea Masters — his fifth top-six finish in his last nine events.

British Open champion Francisco Molinari of Italy and English trio Justin Rose, Tyrrell Hatton and Tommy Fleetwood have booked their places at Le Golf National in Paris as the leading four players on the European Points list.

Spain’s Jon Rahm, Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and Swede Alex Noren have qualified via their World Points positions.

Should Olesen fail to nail down his place this weekend he would be up against the likes of Ryder Cup stalwarts Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson for a captain’s wildcard.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond)

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