AKRON Cracking the top 10 at World Golf Championships events has sometimes been a struggle for Denmark’s Thorbjørn Olesen.
His last two Bridgestone Invitationals are exceptions.
Olesen shot 4-under 64 in Sunday’s final round at Firestone Country Club and finished tied for third with Dustin Johnson at 10-under, five shots behind winner Justin Thomas. The third-place finish comes on the heels of Olesen tying for 10th on the South Course last year. His previous best at a WGC event was a tie for sixth at the 2015 HSBC Champions.
“Started out pretty poorly, struggled a bit on the first day, but slowly it’s been better and better every day,” Olesen said. “Today I just hit a lot more fairways, a lot more greens and made it easier on myself. And the putts started rolling in on the back nine which was really nice.”
Olesen made four birdies and shot 4-under 31 on the back nine. He made five birdies over his final 10 holes, seven over his final 12 and eight on the day. His only bogey came on No. 4.
“It was just nice to have a good finish here,” Olesen said.
Olesen’s putting was a big factor. A 20 footer completed his birdie on No. 7. He also rolled in a 45-foot putt for birdie on No. 9.
On the back nine, Olesen rolled in an 11-foot birdie putt on 11, a 13 footer for birdie on 14 and a 36 footer for birdie on 15.
“I holed some great putts,” Olesen said. “Just let it go and found the speed on the greens. Yeah, they just started rolling in.”
Olesen and Johnson tied for low round of the day. Olesen’s 64 also matches the season best he fired on the final day of the European Tour’s Italian Open in June. He won his fifth European Tour title that day,
“I was really concentrated on just trying to focus on every shot, not looking forward at all and just trying to make birdies out there today,” Olesen said. “I did it pretty well.”
Olesen’s only top 10 finishes this season have come at Firestone and at the Italian Open. He has missed the cut five times, including at the U.S. Open in June. He tied for 12th at The Open Championship last month.
He hopes his successful finish at Firestone is a momentum builder toward next weekend’s PGA Championship in suburban St. Louis.
“Definitely I feel a lot better after today,” Olesen said. “First day I struggled, and today I felt a lot more comfortable. Hopefully I can keep that going into next week.”
GONE JUST LIKE THAT
Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter and Jason Day entered the day with title hopes. As the final round wore on, all three were just trying to stay afloat.
McIlroy shot 3-over 73 and finished tied for sixth at 8-under. Poulter and Day tied for 10th at 7-under. Poulter fired a 4-over 74 Sunday, while Day shot 3-over 73.
Poulter and McIlroy began the day three shots behind leader Justin Thomas. Day was just four back.
Three straight birdies after the turn kept Day in contention. The Australian, however, followed with back-to-back bogeys, a double bogey on No. 16 and a bogey on 17.
Poulter, who held or shared the lead after each of the first two rounds, got off two a slow start. He bogeyed four of his first seven holes and tackled on a double bogey on No. 13.
Three straight McIlroy bogeys on Nos. 8, 9 and 10 helped doom his title chances.
FLAUNTING HIS MOVES
Phil Mickelson displayed some of the dance moves he flaunted in a new commercial for Mizzen+Main performance dress shirts.
Mickelson did a shimmy after rolling in an 11 1/2-foot birdie on No. 8 and a 3 1/2-par save on No. 9, where he hit his tee shot in the rough.
“There were only two dance-worthy shots, the one on 9 and the birdie on 8,” Mickelson said.
Mickelson is playing up the ribbing he’s getting from fellow tour pros about the commercial. Rory McIlroy brought it up on Friday before being asked.
“They’re obviously looking for input and some help on the moves, and I’m happy to show them and give them some private lessons because there’s a lot of jealously amongst the guys,” Mickelson joked.
Asked about his rhythm during the shoot, Mickelson said, “I nailed it.”
Mickelson fired a par 70 in the final round for a 3-under total. A five-time major winner, Mickelson heads to the PGA Championship at Bellerive in St. Louis knowing what he must do before Thursday’s first round.
“The positives are I’ve identified the areas I need work – my short iron play was poor, as was my chipping and putting,” Mickelson said. “I’ll spend all my time heading into the PGA inside 120 yards, chipping, putting, getting my iron play down because that was the area that was really deficient this week.
“Otherwise I played very well. I scored terribly, but because of my scoring my shots were poor.”
NO TOTAL LOSS
Jaco Ahlers finished last at 23-over after rounds of 68, 79, 77 and 79. All is not lost for the 35-year-old from South Africa. Ahlers will still take home $46,500.
At 25, Justin Thomas is the youngest player to win a FedExCup, a major championship and a World Golf Championship event. He is also the fifth player overall to do so. … Thomas’ win pushes him up to No. 2 behind Dustin Johnson in the official world golf rankings. He also remains No. 2 behind Johnson in the FedExCup standings. … Johnson’s 6-under 29 on the front nine tied a tournament record set by Retief Goosen in 2001, Adam Scott in 2006 and Vaughn Taylor in 2008. … Tiger Woods’ 73 was his second over-par score in the final round this season. He shot 3-over 74 at the Wells Fargo Championship and tied for 55th. … There were no bogey free rounds Sunday.