Ryder Cup hopefuls Olesen, Fitzpatrick and Pepperell all way down in Denmark

Thorbjorn Olesen remains in the driving seat to claim the European team's final automatic qualifying place for the Ryder Cup.

Danish golfer Thorbjorn Olesen in action at the Ryder Cup.   -  Getty Images

Neither Matthew Fitzpatrick nor Eddie Pepperell could take advantage of fellow Ryder Cup hopeful Thorbjorn Olesen's struggles at Made in Denmark, with all three down the leaderboard after the first round.

Olesen, Fitzpatrick and Pepperell are all vying for the final automatic qualifying space for the European Ryder Cup team and the former remains in the driving seat despite a difficult day.

The Dane, who would seal a first ever Ryder Cup berth with a top-six finish on home soil, was one of the early starters and lost his ball when he made a double-bogey six on the fourth before recovering to make a one-over 73.

Fitzpatrick and Pepperell need a win to claim a spot on the European team and they are both way back as Jonathan Thomson fired a 64 to take a two-stroke lead after the opening 18.

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Fitzpatrick, who must win the tournament and hope Olesen finishes outside the top seven, is level par after the first round, while Pepperell, who needs a triumph and Olesen to finish outside the top 12, is six shots adrift of leader Thomson.

Therefore, although he encountered his own difficulties, Olesen remains in the driving seat.

"I was obviously nervous on the first tee, like you are in a tournament," he told Sky Sports.

"But I felt like I was pretty comfortable after that. I just didn't really have the tempo of my golf swing."

Pepperell's playing partner was Europe's Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn, but the Englishman is trying not to think about the big prize on offer to him this week.

"I wouldn't say it's a distraction, I'm still very focused on my game," he said of the Ryder Cup. 

"I don't think it's affected my score today and I don't think it will affect my score moving forward. 

"I've got to win this golf tournament, so if I want to do that I've got to play better than I have done today. 

"I have got to start to feel more comfortable with my swing. That's where all my focus really is lying."