European golf’s brightest young talents, the Hojgaard twins – Nicolai and Rasmus – were roped in for a gimmicky, Texas-scramble style event in the Emirates, while the world’s best players are gearing up for battle on the PGA Tour.
But if Nicolai and Rasmus Hojgaard are to achieve their full potential, and join Viktor Hovland in a new vanguard of Ryder Cup warriors, they should surely be heading for Texas - and any other State that will have them on the PGA Tour - instead of scrambling around in second-tier events.
It says a lot about the standard of the field at the Ras Khaimah Classic in the UAE this week that the Hojgaard twins are among the star attractions - which is why they were paired up for the event's knockabout nine-hole curtain-raiser, the Hero Challenge.
The 20-year-old Danes both have enormous potential and have already combined for a mind-boggling five DP World Tour victories, with Nicolai earning his second win last weekend in the weakly-contested Ras Al Khaimah Championship. But they are certainly not the finished article, not by a long way.
And with all due respect to the DP World Tour, they are not going to learn a lot from playing in the tournaments coming up on this side of the Atlantic in the coming months. The field for this week’s Phoenix Open boasts three of the top four players in the world and a host of other leading lights.
There is likely to be an equally strong field a week later for Tiger Woods’ event, the Genesis Open in Los Angeles, before the big boys head east for the four-week Florida swing, and on to Texas for the World Match Play Championship and the Texas Open.
That is where the Hojgaards need to be, and they have surely made enough of an impact already to earn invitations from tournament organisers eager to get in on the ground floor of something that could really take off.
If the Danish youngsters fulfil their potential, those same organisers will be on the phone telling them: “Remember when you were still relatively unknown and we invited you over? How about a little payback, with you both coming back now you’ve made the big time?”
The Americans will have taken notice as the likes of Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia and Shane Lowry - all Major champions - sang the Hojgaards’ praises during the big money Rolex Series tournaments in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Nicolai actually missed the cut in both of those events, a shock considering he had finished runner-up in the Portugal Masters and fourth in the DP World Tour Championship in his previous two starts.
But you can bet your life he learnt a lot more from playing in marquee groups alongside world class players in Abu Dhabi and Dubai than he did when bouncing back to form further up the coast in Ras Al Khaimah.
Rasmus made the top 20 in Abu Dhabi and finished as highly respectable joint 47th in Dubai, and he actually seemed to be enjoying the pressure of rubbing shoulders with some of the best players in the game.
But neither of the twins has climbed high enough up the world rankings to have qualified for either the Match Play or the Masters. A couple of decent performances in PGA Tour events rich in ranking points would soon put that right. And even if they came up short, it would still be another vital step on the learning curve.
DP World Tour chief executive Keith Pelley and his staff have performed wonders to put together a busy 2022 schedule where every event will be worth at least $2 million, mainly thanks to the massive injection of cash from their title sponsors. That certainly did not look possible this time last year, as the Europe-based circuit was battered by the impact of the Covid lockdown.
Their rank-and-file players are extremely grateful that the rescue package looks like proving so successful, and rightly so. But after the low-key finish to the Desert Swing, the DP World circus has nowhere to go for two weeks, with the postponement of the Hero Indian Open and a blank week at the end of February forcing an unwelcome early season break.
Then it is the Kenyan Open from March 3-6, followed by two events in South Africa, before another three week ‘window’ where the only DP World Tour regulars in action will be those who have earned places at the Match Play and Augusta.
The Hojgaards should both be targeting places at those events. And if that means heading over to the States sooner than later, then they should already be making flight reservations, and packing their bags.
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David brings a wealth of experience to Golf Monthly as a freelance contributor having spent more than two decades covering the game as The Sun's golf correspondent. Prior to that, he worked as a sports reporter for the Daily Mail. David has covered the last 12 Ryder Cups and every Masters tournament since 1999. A popular and highly-respected name in the press tents around the world, David has built close relationships with many of the game's leading players and officials.
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