In this week’s Player Blog presented by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Jeff Winther looks ahead to playing in this week’s “fifth Major” for Danish golfers, why he believes his game is coming together, his memorable week in Mallorca last season and why the Højgaards are set for the very top of the game.
Made in HimmerLand is a great event, but especially for us Danish players. We call it the fifth Major. The atmosphere created by the fans has been very good down the years. Last year only a limited number of people were able to attend so I hope there will be big crowds once again this time. The weather looks to be better than normal for here, there is not a lot of a breeze but plenty of sunshine.
I'm looking forward to playing on home soil. It’s an opportunity we don’t often get to experience in our professional playing careers. You get the feeling you are being applauded for every shot - even the bad ones! It’s great to feel the love from the Danish crowds during the week. The fans that show up know their golf and are very loyal in their support.
I have played at HimmerLand since I was four or five years old. I know the course well, but that hasn’t made it any easier for me over the years. I have had a couple of top 20s in my five previous appearances in this event, both of which have come at HimmerLand in 2016 and 2019. But if your swing isn’t cooperating then it will be a struggle to challenge. The course requires you to be accurate off the tee because the rough can be mean. However, the greens are rolling phenomenally so far this week in practice. The green keepers have done a great with the set up.
I can remember coming to the resort with my parents on summer holidays. My younger brother and I would get some money off our Dad, who was a keen golfer, to go to the bowling alley and then after that we’d go and play the par three course. It’s a great place to come and visit on your days off. My summer holidays here were great. The owners have invested a lot of money to build paddle courts, tennis courts and other facilities for visitors. It’s remarkable what they have done since it opened in 1992.
I have never thought of myself potentially being an inspiration to the next generation of golfers from Denmark. But it’s certainly an honour to represent your nation in sport, especially on a week when you play in your home national open. The promoter of this event is very good at thinking outside the box.
The par three 16th at HimmerLand is the backbone of this tournament. I know there can be a lot going on during the week, including concerts in the evening but the 16th is a massive selling point of this event. The crowds flock to that hole which is surrounded by an enormous amphitheatre and always generates a great noise during the week. Everyone looks ahead to that hole during the round. The players are often just desperate to get to the hole to take it on or you just want to play it so that it is done for the day. It can often be a turning point during a round if you’ve started on the back nine during the first two days. Even though it is such a short hole, it is very tricky. You can easily make a five with a misjudgement off the tee.
The Højgaards are not here for show. They are here for the long run, and they are amazingly good. They want to be successful as much as anyone else, plus 20%. They have both already won multiple times on Tour, but I genuinely think there is no ceiling to what they can achieve. They’re both great guys and they know what they want and where they want to get to. They have got good people around them which is important too.
The next two weeks are important for me and provide a great opportunity to register another couple of good results. The BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth is a flagship event on the Tour. If you do well there then you can do enough to ensure you keep your Tour card. I’m 110th in the DP World Tour Rankings going into this week in Denmark so I feel like I’m almost over the line. I just need two or three solid weeks and that is all I am focusing on. After Wentworth I will take a break because I don’t think I’d have the mental energy to play the week after, but I’ll then play a bunch of events up to the end of the season.
I have lots of great memories to call upon from last season. Winning my maiden title on the DP World Tour in Mallorca was a special week. I had my family there with me which made it all the more memorable. I went to Mallorca with the mindset that it would be a good chance to enjoy a week with my wife and kids. We had a lovely hotel room with a spa on the porch and the kids really enjoyed the venue. I was relaxed all week and having my family there worked out especially well. I putted brilliantly during the event, helping me to shoot two 62s on days one and three. I started the final round two shots ahead but at one point I was worried I wouldn’t make my tee off. I got locked in the hotel room bathroom with my wife! My six-year-old daughter had to go and get help to kick down our door – it was a very weird scenario. The nervous energy you’d expect to feel ahead of the final round when you are leading a tournament had almost been used by the time I arrived at the first tee because of the stress of being stuck in the bathroom.
Everyone says the first Tour title is one you’ll never forget but that incident will certainly mean I never forget it! I was just so pleased and so lucky to have my wife and two kids there on site while I was finishing up the Sunday. I felt very lucky. You don’t always get to experience that with your family at a golf tournament because normally you're by yourself. But afterwards I went out for a lovely dinner with the Kjeldsens and Hansens. To also celebrate the moment with them was brilliant. I flew back to Denmark on the Monday and enjoyed a massive party the weekend afterwards. It was a great, great experience and I would love to successfully defend my title in October. I don’t mind that this year’s event will be at a different course. I am still looking forward to the event with great excitement.
I used to be a keen fisherman when I played on the Challenge Tour several years ago, but now my hobby away from golf is snooker. I have got a table at home in my man cave where I play games with my friends a lot. Over time I have become accustomed to the Tour and travelling on your own for large parts of the season. That has helped me stay level-headed when results don’t easily come your way.