The ‘Scandinavian Swing’ continues this week with the Made in Denmark Challenge - Presented by FREJA as the battle to finish in the top 15 and earn promotion onto the European Tour heats up.
Wednesday start, Saturday finish
It will be a quick turnaround for European Challenge Tour players this week as they make their way to the Made in Denmark Challenge – Presented by FREJA, which begins on Wednesday and ends on Saturday. Keep an eye on players who recorded strong finishes last week at the Vierumäki Finnish Challenge to ride their current form straight into Silkeborg.
Number One stunner
In 1995 Thomas Bjørn became the first Dane to be crowned Challenge Tour Number One after he assembled a remarkable campaign in what was his second full season on the circuit.
That year, Bjørn picked up his first Challenge Tour win on home soil at the Himmerland Open - the same course where this year’s Made In Denmark presented by FREJA was played, and where last year’s Made In Denmark Challenge was played.
The rising Danish star then cemented his place on top of the Rankings with two more wins at the Interlaken Open in Switzerland, and the Coca-Cola Open in England.
All told, the 24-year-old Bjørn graduated to the European Tour after a season comprised of three wins, two runner-up finishes, seven top fives and nine top ten results.
The only other Danish player to replicate Bjørn’s feat in topping the Challenge Tour Rankings was last year’s Challenge Tour Number One, Joachim B. Hansen.
Hansen wasted no time establishing himself as last year’s premier player. He finished runner-up in his second start, and then won a week later at the Turkish Airlines Challenge.
The 28-year-old took total control of the Rankings at last year’s Made In Denmark Challenge as he cruised to a five-shot win and an emotional second victory of the season on home-soil with family and friends in attendance.
Over 19 starts last year, Hansen notched up two wins, three runner-up finishes, and a total of nine top tens to top the Rankings with €222,320 in earnings.
In the pipeline
The next batch of Danish stars are now on their way, and a few players competing at home this week have distinguished themselves with fine campaigns thus far.
Rasmus Højgaard currently sits 12th on the Rankings and leads all Danes thus far on the Challenge Tour. If the season were to end today the 18 -year-old, who is a former Junior Ryder Cup player, would be on his way to the European Tour.
Just outside of the coveted top 15 is Martin Simonsen, who got off to a hot-start with back-to-back runner-up finishes at the Challenge de España and the Prague Golf Challenge early in the season and currently holds the 20th spot on the Rankings.
Mark Flint Haastrup, the elder-statesmen in the Danish contingent, surely knows how a good week could change the trajectory of his season. The 35-year-old is inside the top 30 and will chase a second-career Challenge Tour victory this week in his home country.
Breaking the mold
Denmark’s long-standing relationship with the Challenge Tour and the European Tour continues this week, but it has seen an impressive growth over the last several years. The counterpart event on the European Tour, the Made In Denmark presented by FREJA, has rapidly become on the most popular tournaments on the Race to Dubai. Take a look at some of the fun from this year’s tournament.
The Made In Denmark Challenge – Presented by FREJA will celebrate its fifth anniversary this year and continues its tradition of taking the event to different parts of the country. This year, the Challenge Tour’s best will descend on Ry Golfklub Silkeborg for the first time. Measuring 6,933 yards, the par 72 layout will test every club the bag as it offers a mix of demanding and scoreable holes.