Golfer Olesen ‘embarrassed’ by claims he drunkenly groped woman on flight

Danish golfer Thorbjorn Olesen and wife Lauren Zafer arrive at Aldersgate House Crown Court in London, Britain, December 8, 2021. — Reuters pic
Danish golfer Thorbjorn Olesen and wife Lauren Zafer arrive at Aldersgate House Crown Court in London, Britain, December 8, 2021. — Reuters pic

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LONDON, Dec 8 — Ryder Cup winner Thorbjorn Olesen told a court he was “embarrassed and felt horrible” after being accused of drunkenly groping a woman on a British Airways flight from the United States to Britain.

The 31-year-old Danish golfer was on board with other professionals, including England’s Ian Poulter and Justin Rose following a tournament in Memphis in 2019.

Witnesses have described the “completely bizarre” behaviour of the five-time European Tour winner, who was ranked 51st in the world at the time, during the eight-hour flight from Nashville to London.

The London court has heard that Olesen ran around the cabin “like a little boy”, was unable to operate the toilet door, and became verbally abusive to cabin crew when challenged.

He is said to have pushed one British Airways worker, kissed another’s hand before making the sign of the cross, and touched a woman’s breast.

He was eventually led back to his first-class seat, where he cried before falling asleep, but later urinated on another passenger’s seat, the jury has been told.

Olesen, who lives in London, denies sexual assault, assault by beating and being drunk on an aircraft on July 29, 2019.

Giving evidence yesterday, he told the jury he would never “consciously” risk his career by committing a crime and has no memory of the flight after taking sleeping pills.

“I felt absolutely horrible and I was very sorry. I could not believe what they were saying what happened,” he said. “I was just embarrassed and felt horrible.”

Olesen said he “felt fine” as he boarded the aircraft and was handed a drink, adding: “My last memory is getting a glass of champagne and sitting down in my seat and I think I remember taking off.”

He says he does not recall any of the incidents he is accused of.

“The first thing I remember is police coming into my seat,” he said. “I felt a bit all over the place. I was very confused and I think in shock mostly.”

Questioned by the prosecution, Olesen denied he was “in a party mood” when he boarded the flight and said he had “definitely not” taken the pills with alcohol “for fun”.

The court heard that, following his arrest, Olesen lost lucrative sponsorship deals with firms including Nike, BMW, Rolex and Titleist, and was suspended from the European Tour.

Olesen was temporarily reinstated to the Tour pending the outcome of the trial but has plunged to below 400th in the world rankings.

“I think it’s been very difficult to concentrate and play when you don’t know if you have ruined your career and maybe never play professional golf again,” he said.

The trial continues. — AFP

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