As the one-year anniversary of his airport arrest approaches, Thorbjorn Olesen has spoken publicly for the first time about the incident that has put his career as a professional golfer on hold.
The Ryder Cup star is facing charges of sexual assault, being drunk on an aircraft and assault by beating following an alleged incident on a British Airways transatlantic flight in July 2019.
In December, he entered a 'not guilty' plea to all charges against him at Isleworth Crown Court and, at a subsequent hearing last month, it was revealed that a provisional trial date of December 2021 has been reserved for his case to be heard as the UK prosecution service deals with a backlog of cases caused, in part, by the COVID-19 pandemic.
If it does indeed go that far, the case is expected to last two to three days. It will next be reviewed on July 16.
Olesen, a member of the European team that defeated the US at Le Golf National in September 2018, was arrested on July 29 last year after arriving back in London from the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational in Tennessee.
It is alleged that the then 29-year-old abused passengers and crew before being calmed by his 2018 Ryder Cup teammate Ian Poulter. It is also alleged that Olesen then “molested” a woman whilst Poulter slept, before urinating in their first-class aisle.
He denies all charges.
In the meantime, Olesen remains absent from the top tiers of professional golf. He has been suspended by the European Tour since August 7 last year "pending the outcome of legal proceedings".
His enforced inactivity has caused to him to fall 90 places on the Official World Golf Ranking to 166th as of this week.
Last week, however, he pegged it up in the Jyske Bank Danish PGA Championship at Himmerland Golf Club – his first tournament in 11 months. Rounds of 73, 69 and 69 saw Olesen finish in a tie for seventh on eight-under, nine shots behind the winner, Marcus Helligkilde.
Whilst there, he spoke to reporters about his ongoing case.
“I am incredibly sad about what has happened and would like to apologise to all the Danes who have supported me for so many years,” he said.
“I basically haven't played golf in a year. I played for a week in November in Spain, and then I've been playing for the last couple of weeks – that’s it.
“Since I started playing, I've never had anything like that where I haven't played in such a long time. It’s hard.
He added that is “hopeful” that he can play again on the European Tour before his case is heard.
“I can only say that the trial is set for December 2021 and I can't say that much anymore. I hope, of course, that I will be able to come out and play again.”