Thomas Bjorn has led the tributes to the 21-year-old Hojgaard twins Rasmus and Nicolai after they created a world first in professional golf by becoming the first brothers to win back-to-back on the European Tour.
A week after Rasmus birdied the last to capture the Omega European Masters in Switzerland, brother Nicolai did the same on the final green to win the 78th DS Automobiles Italian Open on the Marco Simone course in Rome.
Nicolai’s birdie at the last in a round of 71 saw him finish at 13-under par and a shot clear of Poland’s Adrian Remonk (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (71) who ended on 12-under par.
Bjorn has been singing the praise of the twins for some time and tweeted:
Back to back wins
These two are something else.
— Thomas Bjørn (@thomasbjorngolf) September 5, 2021
Nicolai had been the last to receive an invitation into this week’s event and after four days he remarkably and historically came out on top.
“It means a lot. I’ve been grinding for a long time and seeing Rasmus win three times made me want to do it even more”, he said.
“And to finally get it done is very special and it’s been a great week here so I’m just very happy to get it done.
Nicolai Hojgaard congratulated by his twin brother Rasmus in making it historic back-to-back wins on the European Tour.
“It’s hard actually to make birdies when you’re in front but you just have to grind. Everyone’s going to struggle at some point. You’ve just got to keep grinding – that’s what my caddie Christian told me.
“That’s what we talked about all day – keep going, we know the birdies will come. There weren’t many birdies but one came at the last and it was very important so I’m really pleased about that.
“I’m very happy that Rasmus, his girlfriend and my girlfriend were around watching.
“I really appreciate it because I haven’t been (able) with any of his wins to see him. I could only see him in the crowd.
“It really means a lot to me and it’s just a very special day.”
The win has not only handed Nicolai a two-year Tour exemption but he’s jumped 85 places to 26th on the Race to Dubai and in the process bumping his brother Rasmus down two spots to 30th after his closing 68 handed him a share of 18th place at six-under par.
The Amateur Stage
The pair shone on the amateur stage, with Rasmus winning the 2018 Toyota Junior World Cup, while his brother Nicolai reached number five in the World Amateur Golf Rankings.
The twins also made history in the prestigious Eisenhower Trophy, where alongside John Axelsen, they led Denmark to a first World Amateur Team Championship title.
As amateurs, Nicolai was the more successful of the two individually. He secured back to back wins in his homeland at the Bravo Tours Open – by Visit Tonder and then on his next start at the Hovborg Kro Open three weeks later. A sixth placed finish at the German Boys Open followed before second at the Toyota Junior World Cup. He also won the European Amateur Championship at the Royal Hague Golf & Country Club, finishing one stroke ahead of a group of players that included Viktor Hovland.
The Højgaard brothers both represented Europe in The 2018 Junior Ryder Cup and they even played together on the first morning as they halved their Foursomes match against Akshay Bhatia and Michael Thorbjornsen. Rasmus would go on to secure a resounding 5&4 victory in the Mixed Fourballs too, partnering Italy’s Emilie Alba-Paltrinieri to defeat an American duo of Bhatia and Yealimi Noh. Further success followed in Tuesday’s Singles where Rasmus beat William Moll 1UP to claim an impressive 2½ points in the narrow defeat against Team USA at Disneyland Golf.
History at Q-School
Buoyed by an excellent campaign, Rasmus travelled from the Challenge Tour Grand Final to the Final Stage of European Tour Qualifying School. Despite opening with a two over par 73, he signed for four sub-70 rounds out of his next five to finish fifth and earn a European Tour card.
In doing so Rasmus wrote his name into the history books by becoming the first player born in the 2000s to graduate from Q-School.
In just his fifth start, Rasmus continued the impressive beginnings to his professional career as he became the third youngest player in history to win on the European Tour during a dramatic play-off at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open.
At 18 years and 271 days old, his victory made him the fastest Dane to a European Tour title, beating 15-time European Tour winner Thomas Bjorn’s record of 24 events.
Meanwhile, Nicolai commanded the headlines when he finished runner-up to Sergio Garcia at the KLM in September. Chasing his first professional victory, he tied the lead with Garcia, but his eagle chance to force a play-off on the 18th slid past the hole.
He has since played in eighth further European Tour events, grabbing the attention of the golf world after a first round 64 moved him into the first round lead at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. Hojgaard would slip back over the next three days, but Bjorn still paid credit to both teenage brothers on social media, who are looking to become just the fourth pair of brothers to win on the European Tour.
“Nicolai and Rasmus Højgaard are some serious talent…” tweeted Bjorn. “It’s been a while since I’ve seen two players this young with such a complete package to be successful. Technique, physique, believe and attitude. The next 25 years will be fun to watch”