The Rise of Rasmus Hojgaard
When you think of the golfing nations of the world, you usually think of the US and the British Isles as the stauch frontrunners, followed mostly by former British territories (South Africa, Australia, New Zealand), and finally by the northern Asian countries of Japan and South Korea. All of these nations have deep roots in golf, with years of traditions and their own, with many golfing icons that helped to grow the game.
One nation that never comes to mind, however, is Denmark. The small Nordic country of 5 million people has had Thomas Bjorn as their talisman for golf in the country, and thats about it. The 15-time European Tour winner and 3-time Major runner-up has helped to grow the game in his native country, but it was lagging a new face of the game. That is, until now.
Enter, Rasmus Hojgaard. The young Dane has been seen as a prodigy in Nordic golf for years now: he won 6 solo amateur championships, including the McGregor Trophy, and two team amateur championships. He and his twin brother, Nicolai, lifted both the Junior Golf World Cup trophy and the prestigious Eisenhower Trophy in 2018, while also representing Europe in the Bonallack Trophy tournament and the Junior Ryder Cup. Safe to say, he was one of the most accomplished amateur players in the world.
He began his professional career on the Nordic Golf League in 2019, quickly moving up to the European Challenge Tour. The then 18-year-old finished 21st in the Order of Merit, narrowly missing out on automatic qualification to the European Tour. This minor setback led him to Q-school, where he finished in a tie for 5th and won his European Tour card.
And it didn't take him long to settle in. After finishing in a tie for 49th at the Dunhill, Rasmus made his way down to Mauritius, where he defeated Renato Paratore and Antoine Rozner to win the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open!
With this amazing feat, he became the third-youngest winner in European Tour history (Danny Lee and Matteo Manassero). However, the feel of victory would wear off quickly: Hojgaard would miss his next 4 cuts on the European Tour.
After another Top 10 at the Oman Open, Hojgaard would miss the cut at the Qatar Masters. With the tour on hold during the COVID-19 Pandemic, it gave the young Dane time to re-focus his game. When the UK Swing came around, he was ready. Hojgaard played in four of the six tournaments, finishing 2nd place at the Belfred British Masters, 3rd place at the English Championship, T6 at the Hero Open, and ending with a win at the ISPS HANDA UK Championship.
With this victory, Hojgaard won the UK Order of Merit (best finish in the UK Swing), and moved up to fourth place in the Race to Dubai. Hojgaard also qualified for the US Open at Winged Foot in two weeks, so we will be able to see his skills in his first Major Championship.
Overall, this is a fantastic story for the sport. We have seen many players come through the Amateur circuit in the US make their way to the PGA Tour and become mainstays, so I am hoping Rasmus can do this for the European side. The even scarier part? Rasmus also has a twin brother, Nicolai, who was by his side for many of those amateur tournaments. I think the success of the Hojgaard brothers can help propel the game in Denmark, and hopefully continue to build on Thomas Bjorn's success is growing the game.