[PHOTO: Oisin Keniry/R&A]

The circuitous journey to prominence for Jacob Skov Olesen began in his homeland of Denmark, included collegiate stops at Ranger (Texas) Community College, TCU and Arkansas, and culminated on Saturday with a victory on one of amateur golf’s most prestigious stages, the British Amateur Championship.

Olesen, 25, defeated Dominic Clemons of England, 4&3, in the 36-hole final at Ballyliffin Golf Club’s Glashedy Links in Ireland.

“It hasn’t really sunk in,” said Olesen, the first Dane ever to reach an Amateur final. “But I’m so happy and so proud and so thankful for everyone. Overall, an emotional day.”

The victory in this the 129th edition of the Amateur earns him an invitation to the Open Championship next month at Royal Troon. He also will receive invitations to play in the Masters and US Open next year, provided he remains an amateur, though he has said he intends to turn professional near the end of 2024.

“I’m really excited,” he said about his impending debut at The Open. “That was going to be my one off-week the next eight, nine weeks. Now it’s not. That’s a pretty damn good problem to have, I’d say. I’m really happy. Can’t really believe that’s true, but that’s what you dream of.”

Olesen, 88th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, opened a 2-up lead through the first 18 holes, then after halving the 19th hole, won four straight holes to go 6 up, too steep a deficit for Clemons to overcome. He did win the 27th and 28th holes with a birdie and an eagle, the latter when he drove the green at the 338-metre par 4, to cut the deficit to four.

“I was getting a little stressed there,” Olesen said. “You don’t want to start throwing away a couple.”

Clemons, 22 and 310th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, has also elevated his profile in recent months. He began playing college golf at Hutchinson Community College in Hutchinson, Kansas, transferred to Stetson in DeLand, Florida, and last week Alabama golf coach Jay Seawell announced that he was transferring again and will play for the Crimson Tide going forward. Moreover, last month Clemons won the Scottish Men’s Open Amateur Championship at Muirfield by 17 shots.

“Usually I pride myself on playing my best when it matters but didn’t do that today,” Clemons said. “Disappointed, frustrated but it is what it is. That’s golf. Too many shots this morning. Too many three-putts. Giving too many early Christmas presents, basically.”

The British Amateur featured a 19(!)-man playoff – and that wasn’t even the craziest part

Of the Australian contingent, only two made the matchplay phase of the championship – Sydney’s Declan O’Donovan and reigning Asia-Pacific Amateur champion Jasper Stubbs. Both were ousted in the first round of matchplay, with O’Donovan lasting 20 holes before succumbing to Welsh amateur Tomi Bowen, while Stubbs fell 6&5 to Englands’s Oscar Lent.

And if you’re looking for a country to watch in the amateur ranks in the years to come, note that four golfers from Estonia reached the matchplay portion of the championship.