Next up in our Meet the Rookies series is Joachim B Hansen, whose impressive form in 2012 contributed to one of the most successful seasons in recent years for Danish golf…
Joachim B Hansen will forever hold bittersweet memories of the 2012 Apulia San Domenico Grand Final, where the disappointment of missing out on the title tempered his joy at earning a European Tour card.
The 22 year old led by two shots with six holes to play, but double-bogeyed the 13th and had to settle for a share of second place, behind winner Espen Kofstad.
It was his sixth close call in four months, but the consolation was a fourth place finish in the Challenge Tour Rankings and a shot at the big time in 2013 – not bad for a player in his rookie Challenge Tour season, having come through the satellite Nordic League a year earlier.
Once the regret over his Italian near miss wore off, however, Hansen was able to reflect on a superb campaign which yielded six top five finishes and a starring role in a magnificent season for Danish players, with Andreas Hartø and Morten Orum Madsen also securing promotion to The European Tour.
A runner-up finish at the Doubletree by Hilton Acaya Open in July was the catalyst for his impressive form – until then he had only had one top 20 – and thereafter he was fourth in the Rolex Trophy, tied fourth in the M2M Russian Challenge Cup, tied third in the ALLIANZ Open de Lyon and second in the D+D Real Czech Challenge Open before he nearly put the icing on the cake with victory at the Grand Final.
“Acaya was disappointing because I only needed to par the last to get in a play-off (coincidentally also with Kofstad),” said Hansen. “But it also made me believe I could contend on the Challenge Tour and win titles.
“I had a good night out celebrating that performance with my friends back in Denmark a few days later.”
Like most professionals, Hansen was introduced to golf by his parents. “I was 11 when I first started,” he said. “My dad was involved in the management of a golf tournament in Denmark and he took me out for the first time there. I was bitten by the bug straight away.
“I tried playing football and a few other sports when I was young, but golf really hit me. I picked it up very quickly and I loved it, so I practised every day and played a lot with my friends.
“I made the national team when I was 15 and I played for Denmark for five years. We won the World Cup in Argentina in 2010. Then I turned pro when I was 20 and played very well on the Nordic League last year. I came fifth in the order of merit.
“Tiger Woods was my idol when I was younger, like most other guys my age. And I really liked Phil Mickelson too.”
Although he now has the keys to The European Tour and the potential riches it offers, Hansen is taking a remarkably mature approach.
“For me the motivation is not to earn loads of money or become famous,” he said. “I just want to play golf and enjoy it. The prize money in Acaya was by far the most I’d ever won, but I just put it in the bank. I don’t tend to spend money on stuff – I prefer to save it for a time when I might need it.
“Away from the course I like relaxing and spending time with my friends, which is harder to do since I’ve been playing on the Challenge Tour. I actually really like playing golf socially with them when I get home. We have some funny rounds.”
Hansen added: “I can’t wait for next season now. It took a while to forget about the disappointment of the Grand Final, but now I’ve put it out of my mind and I’m focusing on playing well next year.
“There are so many Danish guys doing well and I want to follow them. It’s going to be very exciting.”