Olesen carded six birdies and no bogeys in a superb 66 at The Belfry to enjoy a one-shot lead over Germany’s Hurly Long and China’s Ashun Wu, while compatriot Rasmus Hojgaard was a shot further back at four-under.
The 32-year-old beat the three-time Major winner Jordan Spieth in their singles match at the 2018 Ryder Cup in Parisis trying to rebuild his career after being acquitted in December last year of sexually assaulting a woman on a British Airways flight in July 2019.
Olesen claimed he turned into an “automaton” and had no control over his body after drinking and taking prescription sleeping pills before a flight from Nashville to London after a tournament in Memphis.
“There are a lot of things I want to achieve,” said Olesen, who was ranked 62 in the world at the time of the incident but is currently ranked 376.
“Of course you have to stay in the present, but it’s been a while since I’ve been in the winning circle and that’s my main goal this year.
“I haven’t worked hard enough to be at this level for a couple of years, so I know there’s still a lot to do.
“There were certain points where you’re not sure you can come back, so it comes down to trust and faith and there have been a tough couple of days.
“But I feel like I’m on the right track now and I’m starting to get a team back together to help me again – I think that’s very important.
“I’ve had some good rounds this year where I did some stupid bogeys on the last three or four holes and put myself out of contention.
“I feel like I had chances to be in the race but just didn’t finish it, really. I need to be up there a little more to be comfortable. It’s been a long time since I could really be up there.”
Lee Westwoodwho is both a past winner and host of the event, had to settle for a 72 opening after dropping shots on his final two holes.
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/golf/british-masters-thorbjorn-olesen-lee-westwood-b2072239.html Thorbjorn Olesen sets early clubhouse target at British Masters