Danes 'to the four' on Challenge Tour

30/12/2012 10:02:00
Andreas Hartø (Martin Bergman) ()
Andreas Hartø (Martin Bergman) ()
If golf was meant as a sport for individuals, nobody told the group of four Danes who battled it out against each other week by week on the 2012 Challenge Tour, but at the end of it all emerged clutching European Tour cards as a team.

Andreas Hartø, JB Hansen, Morten Orum Madsen and Lasse Jensen were inseparable all year on the long and winding path of the 2012 Challenge Tour schedule, practicing, eating and rooming together while also revelling in each other’s success all season long.

It has been an incredible story of friendship which, when watched in close quarters for a whole season, eliminated any sense of surprise when they managed to pull off the feat of all earning their European Tour status, albeit one of them – Lasse Jensen – securing his place on The 2013 Race to Dubai via Qualifying School.

Indeed, while Jensen could only finish 28th in the end of season Rankings, he provided one of those telling moments early in the season when vying for a first victory at the Barclays Kenya Open but failing at the last hurdle in a play-off defeat to Seve Benson.

The first people there to commiserate with the 28 year old were his compatriots and friends. It was a recurring theme all year.

As the months rolled by, their success, drive and companionship grew stronger. By the time they reached the D+D Real Czech Challenge Open in October, the Danes were on top of their game, with four players from the Nordic nation – Hartø and Hansen joined by Anders Schmidt Hansen and Rasmus Hjelm – occupying the top four places on the leaderboard at one point during the opening round.

That tournament turned out to be a battle between young guns and close friends Hartø and Hansen and, while Hartø emerged victorious, the pain of defeat for Hansen was not far from the winner’s mind afterwards and they even celebrated Hartø’s success together in Prague that evening before returning to home soil the following week for the hugely successful Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Challenge hosted by Royal Golf Club.

“He is a great player and he is going to have a great career,” said Hartø in the Czech Republic after his third Challenge Tour victory. “The last couple of months have been fantastic for him and I'm looking forward to getting on The European Tour with him.

“We’ve shared rooms and travelled together this year and the more Danes we can get out on The European Tour the better. We’ve had so much fun this year on the Challenge Tour, it’s been fantastic.”

Madsen had a dream 2012, gaining a European Tour card via the Challenge Tour before bettering that category at Q-School while a debut at The Open Championship in July as well as an impressive start to the 2013 season - securing a tied fourth finish at the Nelson Mandela Championship presented by ISPS Handa - have proven the icing on the cake.

The 24 year old believes that the rapport between the Danes has been a crucial factor in his rapid rise from the Nordic League to the top table of European golf.

He said: “The guys that were all on the Challenge Tour this year, we have all been playing together in the national ranks, against each other and with each other, since we were young. We just continued that whole deal out here where we are playing and staying together and pushing each other as hard as we can.

“When I see Andreas or JB winning or coming close, it is more motivation for me to work hard. I've played those guys so many times, I have beaten them and they have beaten me and I don’t feel any worse a golfer than they are so if they can’t win why can’t I? That is the feeling I get when I see them.”

It is an attitude sure to blossom even further on The European Tour as they join the likes of Thornbjørn Olesen, Thomas Björn and Soren Kjeldsen in the growing population of Danes on the big stage.