Thomas Bjørn can be forgiven Danish bias. “If they were British or American, there would be a lot more excitement around them," 彼は言った. “But that might be a good thing for them. These guys have a level of ability that you don’t always see.”
The subject matter is the 20-year-old Højgaard twins, Nicolai and Rasmus, about whom there was enthusiastic chatter long before they made impressive starts in esteemed company at the Abu Dhabi Championship. European golf, desperate for a good news tale after Ryder Cup humiliation in September, will place a lot of faith in the Højgaards. They created history last year by becoming the first brothers to win ヨーロピアンツアー events in back-to-back weeks.
Bjørn answered with a firm “yes” when asked whether we are correct to make a fuss about this duo. “They have everything,スコットランドのジョージョーダンがペナルティエリア内で処理したこと 2018 Ryder Cup captain. “They have the game, the willingness to learn, they are hard workers and don’t get ahead of themselves. We should be excited. That doesn’t mean ‘it just happens’ but they have it all. They have great ears and good people around them. I was really happy to see their draws this week. These are the things they need, to learn to play with the big boys.”
Those pairings cannot be classed as coincidental as the DP World Tour looks to accelerate the development of European players. Nicolai was alongside Adam Scott and Bernd Wiesberger during an opening round of 69. Rasmus had Ian Poulter and Shane Lowry for company before signing for a 70 at Yas Links.
“I was really impressed,” said Scott, インクルード 2013 Masters champion. “I was saying to my caddie, it’s been a while since I have played with a young kid who made me sit back and take notice. His speed is incredible. If he figures out a short game; obviously he has a pretty good one but if he takes it to top-of-the-world level, there’s nothing stopping a kid like that. It’s phenomenal to watch, his easy speed is amazing. I am surprised there hasn’t been more media or murmurings about him in the US.
“He was 30 yards past me down the last. I look at a kid like that and hope he works on the right things, gets the right advice and can go on because he has incredible talent.
“There’s nothing stopping him from being one of the best players in the world. He has all the attributes you would want aged 20. I would just tell him to become a great wedge player because he is never going to lose that hitting ability. Dustin Johnson worked really hard on his wedges and became a machine out on tour. It looks like Dustin playing, to me.”
High praise indeed. There was more, this time from Poulter for Rasmus. The Englishman and Ryder Cup icon, でも, warned that the twins must not be burdened by unreasonable expectation. Rasmus already has three tour titles to his name. “To have those wins at 20, try to get your head around that for a minute,” said Poulter. “The game is natural to him. It’s effortless power.
“It would be unfair for us to load pressure on these kids. They need to grow into themselves and become consistent golfers. We are going to need them, America are younger than ever and the baton has been handed across. We need them to slowly find their feet properly and if they do that, they’ll be a backbone of the Ryder Cup team for a long time.”
Nicolai was the European amateur champion in 2018, the same year he joined his brother in the successful Danish side at the Eisenhower Trophy, the world amateur team championship. Starting this season as 88th and 97th in the world respectively, Nicolai has more distance than his sibling but is also prone to being fierier. “Nicolai is extremely long but still in control,” says Bjørn. “Rasmus is not as long so they are a little bit different in how they play and in terms of personality but they possess great qualities.”
Amid the other action on day one, Scott Jamieson’s 63 is a course record at Yas Links. The Florida-based Scot leads by a shot from Viktor Hovland. Rory McIlroy’s competitive year started with a level par 72. Collin Morikawa, the Open champion, produced a disappointing 73.