Thorbjorn Olesen targets title defence at the Perth International
By Ali Stafford
Last Updated: 24/02/16 12:33pm
Defending champion Thornbjorn Olesen hopes to build on his past Australia success this week as the Perth International makes its return on to the European Tour schedule.
Olesen claimed his second European Tour title when the tournament was last held in 2014, opening with a birdie-filled 64 on his way to a three-shot win over Victor Dubuisson at Lake Karrinyup Country Club.
Victory lifted Olesen inside the world's top 100 and helped the Dane end the year strongly, with the Alfred Dunhill Links Champion now looking to build on his two top-10 finishes on last month's Desert Swing.
"My season really turned around with the win there in 2014," Olesen said. "I'd been struggling a little bit until that point, but the win got me into the Final Series and I managed to finish the year strongly with some good results in China and Dubai, which made a big difference.
"I didn't really have any expectations going into the tournament, but managed to shoot some good scores and the confidence came flooding back. I really enjoyed everything about the week, and I'm excited about going back.
"I really like Australia in general, and especially Perth. The course is also great, so I'm really looking forward to going back to defend my title."
Olesen has been grouped alongside top seed Louis Oosthuizen and Australia's Greg Chalmers for the opening two rounds, while Turkish Airlines Open champion Victor Dubuisson makes his first competitive appearance since a missed cut in Abu Dhabi last month.
The Frenchman tees off with Peter Uihlein and Marcus Fraser, who is chasing back-to-back victories on the European Tour after last week's surprise triumph at the Maybank Championship Malaysia.
Fraser is up to world No 62 after his dramatic win ahead of Soomin Lee, but now has his sights on breaking in to the world's top 50 and securing a first Masters invite.
"It's something as golfers we all dream of doing," Fraser told reporters on Tuesday. "I've got no one else to blame if it doesn't happen, so it's entirely up to me to try to do everything I can to prepare properly to try to get one of those spots.
"The way I played in the Middle East was the worst golf I've played in a three‑week stretch in my entire career. I went away from it very lost… but I got in some good practise the week off before going to Malaysia.
"That was my third European Tour victory last week, but I want to make it four victories as quick as I can.
"It got the juices going for sure. I'm probably hungrier this week to go out and play well. It definitely gives you that boost of confidence to know that I still can do it."
Challenge Tour graduate Ricadrdo Gouveia and Open de Espana winner James Morrison, who set the course record two years ago with a stunning round of 63, complete those inside the world's top 100 in the field.
Watch the Perth International throughout the week live on Sky Sports 4 - your home of golf. Live coverage gets underway on Thursday from 5am. Or watch the Tournament from £6.99 without a contract, on NOW TV.