Espen Kofstad has flown the flag for Norwegian golf in recent seasons, but a number of young pretenders to his throne are lining up in this week’s Norwegian Challenge.
With Kofstad, who won the Challenge Tour Rankings in 2012, currently recovering from a serious back injury, several rising Norwegian stars are hungry to fill the void at Miklagard Golf Club, on the outskirts of the capital city of Oslo.
They include in-form 23 year old Elias Bertheussen, a full member of the Asian Tour who recently returned home to compete on the Nordic League and made an immediate impact by winning twice in four appearances, first at the Gant Open in Finland and then more recently on home soil at the Nordea Challenge.
Thanks chiefly to those two victories, Bertheussen currently sits in sixth place in the Order of Merit, and has decided to concentrate on the Nordic League for the remainder of the campaign in a bid to finish in the top five and so secure a Challenge Tour card for next year.
Such is his commitment to achieving this aim, Bertheussen – who boasts a razor sharp short game – has declined a sponsor’s invitation to compete in next week’s European Tour event, Made in Denmark, in order to play on the Nordic League instead.
Amongst the strong amateur contingent taking on the hardened pros this week, Viktor Hovland could well be one to watch after his stunning performance in last week’s National Championship.
The 16 year old shot a round of 62 on the second day at Tyrifjord Golf Club en route to winning with an aggregate score of 26 under par.
Hovland was also a member of the Norwegian team which won the TOYOTA Junior Golf World Cup earlier this year. Norway shot a combined seven under par on the final day in Toyota City, Japan, to finish the week on 21 under, four strokes clear of the United States and Venezuela, who tied for second place.
Finally, Kristian K Kjohannessen, whose father represented Norway as a ski jumper in the Winter Olympics, could also fly high in this week’s €175,000 event.
The 19 year old, who plays out of Drammen Golf Club, finished runner-up behind Hovland on 21 under par in last week’s National Championship.
A member of the Norwegian national team for the past five years, Kjohannessen also finished runner-up in last year’s Lytham Trophy after losing in a play-off.