Denmark had competed in the World Amateur Team Championship 24 times before, but had never won the biennial competition which pits nations around the world against each other in a stroke play event. But on Saturday at Irish Carton House Golf Club, all that changed thanks to the exceptional play of a pair of identical twins: Nicolai and Rasmus Hojgaard.
With nine holes to play in the 72-hole tournament, Denmark, USA, Spain and New Zealand were all tied for the team title at 34 under par. The 17-year-old Hojgaard then birdied eight between them on the O’Meara course to beat the Americans by a stroke, WATC’s closest finish since 1968.
Nicolai finished the day with a seven-under 66 while Rasmus shot a 67. Their teammate, John Axelsen, shot an uncounted 69 in the play-three-count-two format. The Danes’ final score was a total of 39 under 541.
“I feel wonderful,” said Nicolai, the 2018 European Amateur Champion. “It’s a dream come true for all of us. I had a rough start to this tournament, so I was just trying to play good rounds to help the team. I did it the last two rounds so it’s perfect. It’s the biggest team event we could have won and to do it with Rasmus is perfect. … It’s simply wonderful.
A last-round 66 from Cole Hammer, a freshman at the University of Texas, and a 69 from Justin Suh, a USC senior, allowed Team USA to pass Spain by two shots and finish alone in second place. This is the 26th time Team USA has finished first, second or third in 31 WATC events.
“I’m really proud of my guys,” said USA captain Tom O’Toole. “They played their hearts out. Like we said most of the week, we had no putts to drop, but a lot of teams can tell that. You can’t say enough about the effort of our guys. Great.”
The consolation for Spain? Alejandro “Alex” Del Rey was the lowest individual scorer, an unofficial honor, at 23-under 267. He and England’s Matthew Jordan shot the lowest scores in the fourth round at eight-under 65.