Nicolai Hojgaard wins DP World Tour Championship with two-shot victory over Ryder Cup team-mates Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland and overnight leader Matt Wallace; the 22-year-old Dane told Sky Sports: “It means a lot, it’s the sweetest one…I can’t believe it’s just happened”
Last Updated: 19/11/23 2:43pm
Nicolai Hojgaard thought he had blown his chances of victory at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai after missing a birdie putt on the final hole.
The Dane squandered a four-foot putt on the 18th that would have extended his lead over Tommy Fleetwood to two shots giving him a nervous wait in the clubhouse.
But fortunately for the 22-year-old, his Ryder Cup team-mate then immediately bogeyed the 17th to leave Fleetwood, Viktor Hovland and Matt Wallace all needing a final-hole eagle to match Hojgaard’s total of 21-under and force a play-off.
Hovland could only scramble a closing par after finding the hazard with his approach into the par-five last and Wallace found water off the tee, with Hojgaard’s DP World Tour Championship victory confirmed when Fleetwood was unable to hole his third shot from the fairway.
Hojgaard told Sky Sports after his win: “I can’t believe it’s just happened.
“Having that putt on 18 to close it out and it slips by, I felt like it was quite a tough moment for me actually.
“I was like, ‘Did it just slip away? Do we have to go in a play-off?’ But we regrouped and took it a bit easy.”
He added in his post-round press conference: “When that one dropped [birdie on 17], I thought, it’s in my own hands now. I can close it out on 18.
“Obviously we saw what happened on 18. I wish I holed that putt, but I’m really proud of how I handled the situation.”
Hojgaard: Greatest win of my career
Hojgaard produced a brilliant eight-under-par 64 on the final day to finish two shots clear and claim his first Rolex Series title.
Hojgaard hit a stunning run of five successive birdies from the 13th hole to finish on 21 under at Jumeirah Golf Estates, in a final round that included nine birdies in total.
“It means a lot, it’s the sweetest one,” the three-time DP World Tour winner said.
“So much hard work has been put in over the past couple years – it feels amazing, this is for family and everything they put in over the years. So much hard work going into this, for it to happen like this is unbelievable.
“We know there are a lot of birdies but we have to hit the shots and hole the putts, anything can happen we were just focused on the job today, to walk up 18 knowing there’s a good chance feels good.
“I played some really good golf. I have to say this is the best golf I’ve played in a tournament and the strongest field in my three wins. My game feels good, I felt good before going out and to finish it like this feels good.
“This is the sweetest way to finish the year, I cant believe we finished on such a high note, I’m definitely going to enjoy this.”
‘Hojgaard’s the real deal’
Hojgaard took home the winner’s cheque of £2.4m and finished second in the Race to Dubai behind champion Rory McIlroy.
Hojgaard will climb to a career-high 50th in the world rankings and former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley believes the European is now taking the next step in his career.
McGinley told Sky Sports: “A great win, great elevation of his career, it’s a big step for him into the top 50 and in terms of the majors.
“This guy is the real deal in terms of how he plays the game. The way he hits it, he plays the power game and coming through and winning the way he did with a stellar field is going to infuse him with a lot of confidence going forward and for the rest of his career.
“Taking on the best players in the world on a more regular basis, certainly when it comes to major championships, in the heat of competition, he was brilliant.
“It was five birdies in a row and a par on 18, so he went out and won this tournament. Tommy Fleetwood didn’t lose it, Viktor Hovland didn’t lose it – this guy, a young guy coming on to the DP World Tour, making his debut in the Ryder Cup as a pick, it was brave of Luke Donald to pick him, has moved on to a new place in his career and in terms of the game.
“He plays the power game; he plays the kind of game that we will see a lot more success come from.”
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