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Rookie Olesen a 'pretty happy man' in gala photo

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SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Sometimes it pays to be single.

Thorbjorn Olesen was the last man to qualify for the European Ryder Cup team, and he’s one of five rookies this week on captain Thomas Bjorn’s squad. But the 28-year-old Dane also happens to be the only player on either team who is not currently in a relationship.

That led to a fun photo opportunity when the teams gathered at the Palace of Versailles Wednesday night for the traditional Ryder Cup gala, as Olesen found himself surrounded by every significant other from the European team in a moment that harkened back memories of Rickie Fowler looking for someone to kiss during the American celebration at Hazeltine.

“Obviously here on my own this week. The guys said it’s a tradition,” Olesen said. “Obviously I had to jump in there and take that beautiful picture. So I was a pretty happy man for a few minutes.”

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Olesen might be the most surprising participant on either side this week at Le Golf National, and at No. 45 in the world he is the lowest-ranked player competing and the only one ranked outside the top 35. But he played some of the best golf in his career in the closing weeks of qualification, a run that included five top-10s highlighted by a win at the Italian Open in June.

While Olesen is a rookie, this isn’t his first Ryder Cup. He was also on the grounds two years ago at Hazeltine, albeit in a different capacity – as the cart driver for Bjorn, who was serving as an assistant captain under Darren Clarke.

“I definitely had to go into the clubhouse to get coffee a few times. More than a few times,” Olesen said. “And it was really, really difficult to get from the course to the clubhouse, especially in a European cart.”

Olesen is just the third player from Denmark ever to make a Ryder Cup team, joining Bjorn and Soren Hansen, and he explained that qualifying for a team led by his “close friend” and mentor made the achievement even more special.

“It meant the world that I could qualify straight in,” Olesen said. “I think it makes me feel better also, being here as a rookie, making the team (on merit). I think I feel more confident. Yeah, I think it made it easier.”