Thorbjørn Olesen is in the lead at the 2017 PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina. If he can hold on to his lead for the rest of the weekend, it would be his first PGA Championship.
The 27-year-old golfer from Denmark has done much better at tournaments in Europe. He has four Nordic League wins and a Challenge Tour win. Earlier this year, he also won the 2017 GolfSixes, an unofficial European Tour event.
Olesen’s caddie is Dominic Bott.
Here’s what you need to know about Olesen.
1. Olesen’s Real First Name Is ‘Jacob,’ but He Goes by ‘Thorbjorn’ Since It’s Less Common
Olesen’s real first name is Jacob. However, he chose to go by “Thorbjorn Olsesen” because his nickname isn’t too common. Rocky Hambric, who represented Olesen after he turned pro, told Golfweek in 2012 that “Thorbjorn” beans “Thunderbear.”
According to his website, he is fluent in Danish and English.
Olesen’s first pro event was the Scandinavian Masters in 2008, when he was 18 years old. He came in fourth place. His first European Tour win came in 2012, when he won the Sicilian Open.
2. Olesen Ranks No. 208 on the 2017 PGA Money List With $225,792 in Earnings
According to ESPN, Olesen ranks #208 on the 2017 PGA Money List. He’s earned $255,792 so far this season.
Olesen came in 10th at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, where he earned $154,667. During the British Open, he finished in 62nd place, which was good enough to earn $24,500. He also earned $46,625 after finishing 63rd at the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship in March 2017.
Olesen’s best finish at a Major tournament was sixth at the 2013 Masters. He came in ninth in the 2012 Open. His previous best finish at the PGA Championship is 27th in 2012. Olesen hasn’t participated in a U.S. Open since 2013, when he failed to make the half-way cut.
In February, Olesen nabbed a sponsorship deal with ISPS Handa, becoming a global ambassador for the charity, which supports disabled golf.
“It’s always a pleasure to play at ISPS HANDA events, especially in Australia where I have fond memories having won in Perth in 2013 and at the World Cup last year,” Olesen said in a statement. “The format this week looks extremely interesting and I’m looking forward to helping ISPS spread their message around the world this year.”
3. He Was Paired With Tiger Woods at the 2012 British Open & Called Woods His ‘Idol’
One of the most important moments in Olesen’s early career was being paired with Tiger Woods during the 2012 British Open. He told the media before playing with Woods that the golf legend is his “idol.”
“He [Tiger] has been my idol for so many years so it’s fantastic to have a chance to play with him, and I’m really looking forward to it,” Olesen said in July 2012.
He later told Golf.com that he felt the most “nervous” he’d ever been in his career.
“We were talking a little bit about the coast and where we were staying, when he got here, and a few other things,” Olesen told Golf.com. “He’s a really nice guy, and I really look up to him. It was nice to have a chat with him.”
In a 2013 interview with Golf.com, Olesen said it was a great experience to have early in his career. “After that I could go into every tournament and actually believe I could win the tournament. That belief is very important to me. You want to get that feeling back,” he said.
4. He Is Also a Big Soccer Fan & Played the Sport Before Turning to Golf
Olesen, who was born in Fursø, is also a big soccer fan. His first dream was to play soccer. He revealed to Golf.com that he is a fan of FC Copenhagen and Manchester United.
In his 2013 NBC Sports interview, he didn’t decide to focus on golf until he was 15. He got a spot on the national team and turned professional three years later. He believed it was best to cut his amateur career short.
“I felt like I learned more when I played pro tournaments than I did when I played amateur events,” he told NBC Sports. “I just decided to turn pro and learn how to play the game that way.”
5. His Father Introduced Him to Golf & His Parents Didn’t Want Him to Turn Pro Early
Olesen’s parents have been a big part of his life. He told Men’s Journal that his father introduced him to golf when he was seven years old.
“There was some convincing I had to do with my parents. It wasn’t that they didn’t want me to turn pro, it’s that my mom wanted me to get an education first,” he explained to Golf Digest. “But I explained the great opportunity ahead of me. I think we made the right decision.”
Olesen lives in London now,
“London is pretty similar to Copenhagen, where a lot of my family and most of my friends are. But what I really like about London is all the different nationalities who co-exist,” he told Gold Digest. “It makes it easy to move there as a foreigner.”
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