Denmark had played in the World Amateur Team Championship 24 previous times but never won the biennial competition that pits the countries of the world in a stroke-play event. But on Saturday at Ireland’s Carton House Golf Club, all that changed thanks to the standout play of a pair of identical twins: Nicolai and Rasmus Hojgaard.
With nine holes to play in the 72-hole tournament, Denmark, the United States, Spain and New Zealand were all tied for the team title at 34 under par. The 17-year-old Hojgaard then made eight birdies between them on the O’Meara Course to beat the Americans by one stroke, the closest finish in the WATC since 1968.
Nicolai finished the day with a seven-under 66 while Rasmus shot a 67. Their teammate, John Axelsen, shot a non-counting 69 in the play-three-count-two format. The Danes’ final score was a 39-under 541 total.
“I feel wonderful,” said Nicolai, the 2018 European Amateur champion. “This is a dream come true for all of us. I had a tough start to this tournament, so I was just trying to play some good rounds to help the team. I did that the last two rounds so this is perfect. This is the biggest team event we could have won and to do it with Rasmus is perfect. … This is just wonderful.”
A final-round 66 from Cole Hammer, an incoming freshman at the University of Texas and a 69 from USC senior Justin Suh allowed the American squad to pass Spain by two strokes and finish alone in second place. It’s the 26th time Team USA has finished first, second or third in 31 editions of the WATC.
“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 didn’t get some putts to fall but a lot of teams can say that. You can’t say enough about our guys’ effort. Super.”
The consolation for Spain? Alejandro “Alex” Del Rey was the low individual scorer, an unofficial honor, at 23-under 267. He and England’s Matthew Jordan shot the low scores in the fourth round at eight-under 65.