Thorbjorn Olesen plays first event for a year at this week's Hero Open
Watch this week's Hero Open on Sky Sports Golf. Live first-round coverage begins Thursday at midday.
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 29/07/20 1:01pm
Thorbjorn Olesen returns to top-flight action this week at the Hero Open after his European Tour suspension was lifted earlier this month.
Olesen has not played full-field tournament golf since last year's WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational, after which he was arrested following a flight from Nashville to London accused of sexual assault, assault by beating and being drunk on an aircraft.
The Ryder Cup star was charged for all three alleged offences and summoned to appear at Isleworth Crown Court for a trial which was scheduled to begin on May 11, but proceedings have now been delayed until December 2021 at the earliest. Olesen has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The European Tour agreed to lift their suspension on Olesen competing until the trial is completed, and the Dane is at Forest of Arden this week for the Hero Open - the second of six events on the UK Swing this summer.
Olesen has been drawn to play alongside 2008 Ryder Cup player Oliver Wilson and rising Belgian star Thomas Detry, the threeball heading to the first tee at 8:15am on Thursday, with live first round coverage beginning at 12pm on Sky Sports Golf.
The 30-year-old, a five-time winner on the European Tour and a member of Thomas Bjorn's victorious Ryder Cup squad in Paris in 2018, has seen his world ranking plummet from 62nd to 207th during his year of inactivity.
Hero Open tee times
Groups and starting times for the first two rounds of the Hero Open at Forest of Arden
He was initially banned from competing pending the outcome of his trial, but the "significant and unparalleled" delays in the legal process prompted the European Tour to grant Olesen a reprieve for the next 18 months.
A statement issued by the Tour on July 2 read: "Due to the unprecedented delay in court proceedings in the UK caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, and following discussions with his legal team, the European Tour confirms that the suspension on Danish golfer Thorbjørn Olesen has been lifted.
"Olesen's suspension began on Tuesday, August 6, 2019 after he was arrested and charged on three counts following an alleged incident on a flight from Nashville to London on Monday, July 29, 2019. He has pleaded not guilty to all three charges.
"It was initially mutually agreed between the European Tour and Olesen that it would be inappropriate for him to continue to participate in Tour events until the conclusion of his trial, which was originally fixed for Monday, May 11, 2020.
"However, all parties have now been informed by the UK courts that, following the disruption caused by the pandemic, Olesen's trial will not now take place until Monday, December 6, 2021 at the earliest, a total of 854 days from August 6, 2019.
"Due to this significant and unparalleled delay in the legal process, the European Tour has agreed that his suspension be lifted with immediate effect, allowing him to compete while he continues to contest the case.
"This will be reviewed following the conclusion of the legal process, but as this is an on-going legal matter the European Tour will be making no further comment at this time."
Olesen said: "While my team and I initially agreed that I would not participate in Tour events while the legal proceedings were outstanding, I am naturally grateful to the European Tour for allowing me to continue my career following the lengthy adjournment of my trial.
"Obviously, the case itself is still on-going so I will continue to make no comment about it."
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