Whilst he may have been overshadowed by his compatriot Thomas Björn, the performance of Mark Haastrup in finishing third at last week’s Estoril Open de Portugal should not be underestimated.
By his own admission Haastrup, who took the eighth card at the 2009 Qualifying School – Final Stage, has struggled for consistency in his first season on The European Tour.
But rounds of 67-68-70-67 in tough conditions at Penha Longa Golf Club, on the Estoril coast, confirmed his latent talent and drew praise from Björn, who saw off all-comers to claim his first European Tour title for four years.
Björn said: “It was a great performance by Mark. He’s still a young guy, and so he needs these kind of performances to give him the confidence and belief that he belongs out here. A round of 67 on the final day in tough conditions was a wonderful effort , so that’s every credit to him. When you come out on Tour these days it’s very difficult to make a name for yourself, unless you’re exceptionally talented, but if he keeps working hard and improving then he’s got a great chance.”
Whilst praise and advice from a ten-time European Tour champion is priceless the life of a jet-setting professional golfer is anything but, which is why the €62,600 Haastrup earned for finishing third – comfortably the biggest paycheque of his fledgling career – was equally well received.
Now Haastrup, whose previous highest finish was joint ninth at this year’s Iberdrola Open Cala Millor Millorca, will bid to back up that performance with another strong showing at this week’s SAINT-OMER Open presented by Neuflize OBC, an event in which he finished tied 28th last year.
The 26 year old, who used to room with the 2009 Celtic Manor Wales Open champion Jeppe Huldahl during their Challenge Tour days, said: “The course at St Omer is quite similar to the one in Portugal last week, and so are the conditions. It’s normally very windy and the greens can be very tricky, so you have to stay patient and build the round, because par isn’t a bad score on a lot of the holes. My confidence is high at the minute, so hopefully I can have another good week.
“I’m just happy I’m not a caddy this week, because the course is very hilly, so it’s tough enough to walk it without having to carry a bag around! It’s a great event for players like me who don’t get into some of the bigger events on The European Tour, because it gives us a good chance of a high finish. With the form I’m in, I’m confident of playing well. But then again in the weeks leading up to Portugal I hadn’t been playing well, so it’s important not to get too far ahead of myself.”
Haastrup is joined in the 156-man field by Frenchman Raphaël Jacquelin, who will be hoping to add to his two European Tour titles with victory in the dual ranking event.