Big hitter Olesen a long shot to tame US PGA this weekend

Thomas Bjørn won’t fancy his chances either on a course that is one of the most difficult in the US

As Thorbjørn Olesen continues to impress in North America, several golf pundits feel it’s only a matter of time before the Danish star captures his first major tournament. 


But the course set-up at this week’s US PGA Championship, the fourth and final major of the season, doesn’t bode well for Olesen or his compatriot Thomas Bjørn. 

Few venues are held in the same regard as Oak Hill East, a 7,163-yard, par-70 course located outside of Rochester in upstate New York. Considered one of the more difficult – but fair – tests in golf, Oak Hill demands accuracy off the tee and caution attacking the pins. Although tour professionals have praised the lack of deception on the course, the scarcity of par-fives (only two) means powerful hitters like Olesen could struggle to find easy scoring opportunities. 


“I just think it’s incredibly well thought out and should identify the best player this week,” reigning British Open champion Phil Mickelson told reporters after a practice round. “The golf course is a fair, difficult test that you want, without going over the edge and without trying to protect par.”


Olesen has struggled with ball-striking in tournaments of late, having missed the cut in five of his last seven events. The 23-year-old Furesø native shot a 287 (+7) at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational last week to finish in 48th place. His form is a far cry from earlier this season, which included a sixth-place finish at the Masters that featured 21 birdies and an eagle. 


Olesen and his playing partners will tee off at 17:40 CET on Thursday. Bjørn goes off five minutes later. 


Compared to Olesen, Bjørn has spent much of the season here in Europe, playing just two events in North America. The 42-year-old Dane is coming off a disastrous final round at the British Open, his favourite tournament, shooting an 80 that sent him plummeting down the leaderboard. In the end he didn’t even make enough to recompensate ESPN for the $80,000 camera he obliterated with a wayward tee shot – had they asked him, of course. 


Bjørn is a 200/1 shot to win this weekend as is Olesen (both Bet 365). Given that Bjørn’s confidence with the putter should give him the edge on Oak Hill’s slick greens, his odds look slightly harsh. 


Tiger Woods, meanwhile, coming off the back of a runaway victory at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational, is the clear favourite at 7/2. But he will be wary of the threat of a certain Scandinavian, and no, it’s not his former wife. A noteworthy dark-horse pick among many pundits is Swedish golfer Henrik Stenson. His accuracy off the tee (#1 on the PGA this season), along with his penchant for reaching greens in regulation, make him ideally-suited for Oak Hill’s tree-lined course.