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Nicolai Hojgaard survived a mid-round slump to secure a four shot victory at the Ras al Khaimah Championship.
After three holes, the young Dane had been five shots clear. However, only seven holes later, he found himself two strokes back of Jordan Smith, with Hojgaard dropping three shots in just four holes. The 20-year-old showed experience beyond his youth though, with a birdie at the 13th being followed by one of the best shots you will ever see at the par-5 14th, the resulting eagle giving him enough cushion to close out a second DP World Tour title.
"It's a very sweet victory. It has been such a grind today," said Hojgaard. "I got off to a great start and then just struggled quite a bit. I had to dig deep out there and then the turning point came at 13. I saw that Jordan Smith had made a run and was two-up when I had gotten on the green. Thankfully, I managed to step up with a clutch finish.
"At that point on 13, I thought I was throwing the tournament, especially when I made the double-bogey and bogey at 12. My friend, Christian, on the bag, did a pretty great job at keeping me focused and motivated for the finish."
Wow. Nicolai Højgaard, take a bow! 🤯#RakGolfChamps pic.twitter.com/3X9btKB5mZFebruary 6, 2022
Thanks to a stunning eight-under-par third round, Hojgaard began the final day with a comfortable three-shot margin over Scotland's, David Law. Starting with two pars, the young Dane seemed to have already stamped his name on the trophy, with a stunning long iron from the desert finishing inches away from an albatross.
That eagle on the 3rd, was followed by a run of pars which kept Hojgaard three clear at the top. However, an uncharacteristically poor putting display on the 9th saw his advantage reduced to just one shot.
His misery was compounded further over the early stages of the back nine, with the 20-year-old going from one ahead to two behind. This was thanks, in part, to Jordan Smith rolling birdie putts in for fun, with the Englishman making a trio of birdies from the 12th to the 14th.
But the Al Hamra layout had yet another twist instore. With Smith bogeying the 15th, Hojgaard was faced with an unbelievably difficult shot on the par-5 14th. Stuck in the desert, with a tuft of grass behind his ball, the 20-year-old took an almighty swipe from 245-yards, a swipe that couldn't of come out cleaner and saw a result of just a 10-foot putt for eagle. A shot of the year contender most certainly!
What's more, is that Hojgaard would roll in the eagle putt, seeing his lead move back to a two shot margin. That advantage was soon three, with his birdie putt at the 17th dropping in the side door and almost guaranteeing a second DP World Tour title.
That title, was confirmed at the 72nd hole, with Hojgaard rolling in a mid-range birdie putt for a four shot victory and five-under-par run over his last six holes. A stunning finish for the 20-year-old.
The win moves the Dane to his highest ever position in the world rankings, with Hojgaard now 63rd and on the cusp of the top-50 and invites to events like the Masters and Players Championship: "I'm just motivated to keep going and get better. Hopefully I can qualify for those big tournaments," he said.
Matt studied Sports Journalism at Southampton Solent University, graduating in 2019. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly and the PGA, he covers all aspects of the game, from Tour news to equipment testing and buyers’ guides. Taking up the game at the age of six, Matt currently holds a handicap of 3 and despite not having a hole in one…yet, he has had two albatrosses. His favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.
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