Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen held his nerve to win the Turkish Airlines Open Sunday after threatening to set an unwanted record.
Olesen took a seven-shot lead into the final round at the Regnum Carya Golf & Spa resort in Antalya, but saw that reduced to a single shot at one stage thanks to a brilliant scoring burst from England’s David Horsey.
However, the 26-year-old responded with vital birdies on the 12th, 14th and 15th on his way to a closing 69 to finish 20 under par and claim the first prize of just over €1 million.
Horsey and China’s Li Haotong shared second place on 17 under after matching rounds of 65, with Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger two shots further back in fourth.
No player has ever squandered a seven-shot lead after 54 holes on the European Tour, with Martin Kaymer the most recent to lose a six-shot advantage in last year’s Abu Dhabi Championship.
But that looked a distinct possibility once Horsey fired five birdies to race to the turn in 29 and Olesen three-putted the ninth to card just his fourth bogey of the week.
The gap was briefly down to one when Horsey two-putted from long range for a birdie on the par-five 12th, with Olesen finding a greenside bunker with his approach to the same hole.
Olesen came up eight feet short with his recovery from the sand but crucially holed the putt to restore his two-shot lead and then produced a superb tee shot on the par-three 14th to set up a tap-in birdie.
Horsey closed the gap to two shots once more with a birdie on the 15th, only for Olesen to do likewise in the group behind after pitching to four feet. And when Horsey three-putted the 16th after leaving himself with a severely-breaking birdie putt, Olesen could afford to drop a shot at the same hole on his way to a hard-fought fourth European Tour title.