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Højgaard seals second title with ISPS HANDA UK Championship victory

Rasmus Højgaard. © European Tour
Rasmus Højgaard. © European Tour

Rasmus Højgaard became only the second teenager to win twice on the European Tour after edging out Justin Walters in a play-off for the 2020 ISPS HANDA UK Championship.

On a dramatic final day at The Belfry, the 19-year-old from Denmark came from five strokes back to finish level with Walters on 14 under par.

When the contest went to extra holes, Højgaard held his nerve with consecutive pars down the 18th, with his South African opponent making a bogey on the second trip back down the last.

Højgaard became the first player born in the 21st century to come through Qualifying School last year and won his first European Tour title in just his fifth start – also in a play-off – at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open. Italian Matteo Manassero is the only other player to have captured two titles before turning 20.

After reaching the turn in 33, Højgaard dropped his first shot of the day on the 12th. That appeared to leave Walters and two-time Major winner Martin Kaymer battling for the title, but in a remarkable finish Højgaard birdied the 14th and 16th and eagled the par five 17th to complete a round of 65.

Kaymer finished in a tie for third place alongside Benjamin Hebert of France on 13 under par, with a bogey on 17 denying him a place in the play-off. Austrian Bernd Wiesberger and Craig Howie of Scotland were then at 12 under par, with England’s Marcus Armitage and Spaniard Jorge Campillo a shot further back.

With three UK Swing top tens in addition to his victory at The Belfry, Højgaard tops the Mini Order of Merit and receives an additional £60,000 to donate to charity, with the Childhood Cancer Foundation and Ronald McDonald House in Denmark his nominated charities.

Player quotes

Rasmus Højgaard: “It feels good. I didn’t really expect it. I started five shots back, so I was just trying to score as low and possible and see where I ended up. Ended in a play-off and win as well, so I was very happy.
“I did take a look at some of the leaderboards so I had a feeling of where I was but I just tried to keep my focus on what I can control, and that is setting up as many birdie chances as possible.
“It was in really goo condition and the wind dropped down a bit so you can actually give yourself a lot of chances. You can see that with the scores as well, it was gettable out there.
“I had a good amateur career and achieved a few things there. I learnt how to be in contention and manage myself, and have brought that along to my professional career, and it has been working so far which has been awesome.”
Justin Walters: “It’s disappointing but I only have myself to blame really. I hit three bad tee shots in regulation, which really cost me, but after all of that being said, to birdie three out of the last five – or however many it was – to get into that position, that’s good too. Got to focus on that.”Certainly, the drive on eight and that short, missed putt, that’s cost me the tournament. You would have thought I would have learned the value of one shot by now. But it’s a major step forward from what I have been doing. The more I put myself in that situation I think I’ll come out on top eventually.

“I smiled because I’ve learned to mess things up like that. I just thought, that’s the old Justin coming through to test me a little bit, so I just looked at it from that point of view. Here’s the test, here’s the challenge, let’s see how we respond to it. I felt like I responded pretty good, aside from the bogey on 13.”

Martin Kaymer: “I had a really good chance this week to win a golf tournament again. Unfortunately, it was not to be today. I was really battling all day, playing well, made some good putts coming in. Unfortunately, that mistake on 17 – you can’t make that at the end of the round when you are trying to win a tournament.

“Overall, really happy with my game. Looking forward to next week to see if we can create another chance.

“Before I had a look at the schedule, I thought I needed to get some preparation in before the U.S. Open. When I saw The Belfry and Valderrama on the schedule it was a no-brainer, two great golf courses.”

Round four scores