The success story of the identical Højgaard twins reached a new peak on Sunday – even though the golf gods only meant well for Nicolai on Sunday, but Rasmus, who was a few minutes younger, suffered a bitter setback. Nicolai achieved the biggest success of his career at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
The 22-year-old Dane not only received the winner's prize of 2.74 million euros for his triumph at the final tournament, but also moved into second place behind Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy in the 2022/2023 "Race to Dubai" season ranking with his third victory on the former European Tour. For this, he received another 1.09 million euros from the bonus pool.
But more importantly, at the end of his fourth year as a professional, Nicolai made it to 50th place in the world rankings for the first time and thus has a good chance of playing in all four majors in 2024. Even before the end of the 2023 PGA Tour season, which ended on Sunday with a victory for the Swede Ludvig Åberg, it had been clear: Nicolai had secured the right to play in the traditional American series through good results on the PGA Tour - including a second place in March.
"He's my best friend"
The twins wanted to move to America together next year, because Rasmus also thought he had a chance of securing one of the ten PGA Tour cards via a special classification in the "Race to Dubai". But after a hit in the water on the last hole, Rasmus only ended up in eleventh place in the tournament as well as in the special ranking. But despite this disappointment, Rasmus immediately rushed to his brother Nicolai, who was in the "Recording Area", where the players check and hand in their scorecard, to watch with him on the TV screen whether Nicolai's magnificent final round of 64 strokes was enough for the greatest family victory.
"To have him with us shows character and that he's a great guy. He's my best friend. So to have him there at that moment was very special. I know how he feels, but he'll get back on his feet," Nicolai said. Together, the "Danish twins" experienced that none of the pursuers managed to oust Nicolai from the lead.
England's Tommy Fleetwood and Matt Wallace as well as Norway's Viktor Hovland had to settle for shared second place in the end, two strokes behind. "I have to say that this is the best golf I've played in a tournament and the strongest field in my three wins. It's the best way to end the year," said Nicolai Højgaard, who immediately embraced his parents after the triumph.
Because this victory is the preliminary highlight of a family history. She started when her father Oli first took her twin brothers to the Gyttegård Golf Club in Jutland, just five minutes from their home, at the age of three or four. Oli Højgaard, an amateur golfer with handicap 1, equipped both of them with a complete set of clubs at the age of eight. "From then on, the golf course was our home," says Nicolai.
Third-youngest winner on the European Tour
Two years later, Rasmus won the Danish Youth Championships in this age group ahead of Nicolai, the beginning of a great amateur career together. In 2016, Rasmus won the Danish Amateur Championship, and in 2018 the two seventeen-year-olds won the Amateur Team World Championship together with a teammate.
A few weeks later, Nicolai triumphed at the European Amateur Championships – ahead of Viktor Hovland. The two Danes turned professional at the beginning of 2019.
Rasmus was the first to make it onto the European Tour, winning at the age of 18 as the third-youngest professional to date – and that was already in his fifth appearance. Nicolai was also promoted to the first European league a short time later, but it was not until Rasmus had achieved his third success in Switzerland that Nicolai took his first triumph at the 2021 Italian Open the following week - for the first time brothers won in two consecutive weeks.
This year, Rasmus managed a home victory on the DP World Tour in Denmark. Nicolai, on the other hand, has been waiting in vain for another success since February 2022. Nevertheless, he was brought into the Ryder Cup team by captain Luke Donald. Nicolai only scored half a point, but the victory of the European team gave Nicolai Højgaard a powerful boost.
In the previous week, only the American world number eight Max Homa was able to defeat him at the Nedbank Challenge. In Dubai, he was unstoppable. For Donald, more than a confirmation of his choice: "What a finish by Nico in one of the strongest European fields against some of the best players in the world – the future of European golf looks bright," the Englishman wrote on Platform X.