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 spot 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 Silkeborg.
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 per cent. 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 were 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."