By Martyn Herman
PARIS (Reuters) – Two years after delivering coffees to Europe’s players at Hazeltine, Danish rookie Thorbjorn Olesen has earned himself what he hopes will be a more pivotal Ryder Cup role this time.
The 28-year-old grabbed a place on compatriot and close friend Thomas Bjorn’s 12-man team after an impressive season on the European Tour — grabbing the last qualification spot less than a month ago at the Made in Denmark event in Silkborg.
As with Europe’s four other debutants, the enormity of a Ryder Cup match will hit home on Friday morning at Le Golf National just south of Paris.
But Olesen says his stint driving then vice-captain Bjorn’s buggy around Hazeltine in 2016 will hold him in good stead for what he can expect inside the ropes.
“Well, first of all, it’s the toughest job I’ve ever had, for sure. Driving Thomas’s buggy was difficult. He was very demanding, so I was running around,” Olesen told reporters on Thursday.
“I definitely had to go into the clubhouse to get coffees a few times, more than a few times. And it was really, really difficult to get from the course into the clubhouse, especially in a European cart.”
Olesen is happy to swap the steering wheel for his clubs this time round, but says the close-up view he got at Hazeltine, where Europe lost, was invaluable as he prepares for the biggest three days of his career.
“It was a great experience for me. Seeing behind the scenes, seeing what the captains do, vice captains, realise how tough of a job they actually have to pick the teams,” he said.
“Standing on the first tee, seeing all that, I think is a good experience, and I think it can only help me this week.”
Olesen is a close friend of Bjorn’s, describing him as a mentor as he made his way through the ranks.
They both live in London and occasionally watch football together so he said it was a relief that he gained one of the eight automatic qualification places, sparing Bjorn a potentially difficult decision when naming his wildcards.
“100 percent. It meant the world that I could qualify straight in, and it would have been a really tough decision for Thomas if it wasn’t, because there was so many great players being outside,” he said.
“I wouldn’t know if I wouldn’t have qualified if I would have got the pick or not.”
Olesen said there were nerves during his first practice round on Tuesday but looked relaxed on Thursday.
“I think it’s going to be very, very different standing there on the first tee tomorrow, I’m sure. I’m definitely going to be very nervous, no doubt about it,” he said.
“I will try to just embrace the moment and do my best. I enjoy being nervous, so I think that’s a great feeling to have, so I’m looking forward whenever I’m standing on that first tee.”
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond)