Marcus Kinhult has already achieved many great things in his career but he arrives at the Made in Denmark Challenge – presented by Ejner HesselMade in Denmark Challenge – presented by Ejner Hessel aware of one box he still needs to tick: a maiden European Challenge Tour win.
The Swede arrived at the Royal Oak Golf Club on the back of his best result of the season, tied fifth at last week’s Hauts de France Golf Open, and is riding high in ninth place on the Road to Oman.
Despite numerous successes in a glittering amateur career, Kinhult is acutely aware of the difficulty of sealing a professional win, having carried the lead into the final round of the Ras Al Khaimah 2016 Golf Challenge last year only to watch playing partner Jordan Smith take an impressive victory.
“A goal of mine this year is to win a tournament,” said the 20 year old. “That’s something I’m still trying to reach and work for every week.
“I learned a lot in Ras Al Khaimah. I played in the last group on the last day with Jordan who played really well, so that was nice to see and to experience so close up, to see how he handled winning the tournament.
“I think I learned a lot that day and the other times when I’ve been in contention – you always learn something about yourself.
“I think performance-wise there’s not that much difference between winning as an amateur and winning as a pro, it’s just mentally, being comfortable with winning, I don’t feel like I have that yet.
“It took me a few years on the amateur circuit to be able to win and I think it’s the same out here – you need to make some mistakes before you can actually get over the line.”
Kinhult’s journey to the top of the Challenge Tour has, despite his youth, been a long time coming since he announced himself to the golfing world by leading the 2015 Nordea Masters at the halfway stage while still an amateur.
He subsequently earned a European Tour card through that year’s Qualifying School but after struggling in the early part of 2016, he opted to rebuild his confidence on the Road to Oman.
This season he has started to show his class, missing only one cut and finishing inside the top 15 in five of his seven tournaments – yet surprisingly, Kinhult does not feel he is playing his best golf.
“I feel very confident at the moment,” he said. “I have had some decent weeks now, last week being my highest finish of the year, and I feel like my game hasn’t quite clicked yet but I’ve still been playing well and making cuts, finishing well.
“I’ve had some good weekends but I feel I have more to give, hopefully I do anyway – there are always things to improve on and I hope I can do even better over the next few tournaments.
“It is encouraging, to be doing this well without feeling like I’m playing my best. I take that as a positive, and hopefully now I’m feeling more comfortable when I’m getting in contention, I can keep that going.
“There have been a few tournaments now where I’ve been just short of the lead or a few shots behind the final group, which is good for me because I still don’t feel like I’m quite comfortable in those positions yet but I’m learning.”
Last year’s Danish event on the Road to Oman was Kinhult’s first on the Challenge Tour and he performed well, tying for eighth at Aalborg GK.
Though this year’s tournament is at a different venue, Kinhult believes that the Kolding course should suit his game, with some shared Scandinavian characteristics with his native Sweden a potential benefit.
“I always enjoy playing in Denmark,” he said. “I’m here with my family, we’ve rented a house, so I think it will be a good week and it’s almost home soil for me.
“The course looks great, the players all seem to like it too, and I’m feeling pretty relaxed with my game so I’m hoping this can be another good week – I’m going to enjoy it.”
Rankings leader Julian Suri heads the field as the American plays his first tournament on the Road to Oman since the Swiss Challenge presented by ASG.
His compatriot Chase Koepka also tees it up following his brother Brooks’ Major Championship breakthrough at the U.S. Open as he seeks to follow the same successful path from the Challenge Tour to the golfing world’s summit.
Mark Flindt Haastrup leads the native hopefuls, the Dane currently sitting in 28th place in the Rankings, and he is one of 12 Danish golfers looking to draw on home comforts this week.