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Five players to watch in 2020
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Five players to watch in 2020

Each new season on the European Tour brings an exciting crop of fresh-faced rookies, looking to make an immediate impact on the world stage.

Rasmus Højgaard

Here, we look at five first-year players aiming to be crowned the next Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year…

Rasmus Højgaard

The 18-year-old formally introduced himself to golf fans around the globe when he outlasted Antoine Rozner and Renato Paratore by going birdie-birdie-eagle in a play-off to win the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open at the start of December. 

The triumph was the latest in a meteoric rise for the young Dane who went from competing in the Junior Ryder Cup to winning on the European Tour in just over a year. 

Along with his twin brother Nicolai, and their fellow countryman John Axelsen, Højgaard formed part of Denmark’s first-ever winning side at the World Amateur Team Championships in September 2018. 

Since then, he has completed a full season on the Challenge Tour, where he finished as Road to Mallorca Number 21 – narrowly missing out on a place in the top 15. 

With 25 more Tour cards on offer at Qualifying School the week after the Challenge Tour season ended, both Højgaards survived the 72-hole cut at Final Stage, but it was Rasmus who made the grade as he graduated to the European Tour by finishing the six-round pressure-packed marathon in a tie for fifth place.

Rasmus Højgaard

Adrian Meronk 

The first golfer from Poland to earn a European Tour card will also be one of the hottest rookie prospects on Tour in 2020. 

At 26-years-old, Meronk steps onto to the world stage following a mighty campaign on the Challenge Tour, where he amassed an impressive ten top ten finishes – more than anyone else – to end the season as Road to Mallorca Number Five. 

Hanging around the top of tournament leaderboards on a weekly basis also yielded a win for Meronk, who made history by becoming the first Polish player to triumph in a Challenge Tour event at the 57˚ Open de Portugal @ Morgado Golf Resort. 

Standing at six feet and six inches tall, Meronk is easy to spot, but with a reputation for being strong in all facets, his game is sure to turn heads as well. If he continues with the well-worn routines he honed over his three seasons on the Challenge Tour he will be able to mix it up with any player in the world.

Meronk

Antoine Rozner

The Parisian took a year to settle into the Challenge Tour way of life after graduating from the Alps Tour in 2017, but he showed his true talent during the 2019 Road to Mallorca. 

The Frenchman won the second event of the season as a final round of 66 secured victory at the Challenge de España, before he added to his tally the very next week at the Prague Golf Challenge. 

The back-to-back victories left him in pole position for graduation to the European Tour and he went close to securing automatic promotion via the three-win rule on the Challenge Tour. The 26-year-old didn’t claim a third win but still amassed four further top tens before closing out his season in eighth position in the rankings to secure a maiden campaign on the top tier in 2020. 

Much like the 2019 season, Rozner has made a quick start to life on the European Tour in 2020, losing in a play-off to Højgaard in the second event of the season – the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open.

Antoine Rozner

Calum Hill 

The young Scot was hotly tipped to excel on the Challenge Tour in 2019, and he did so emphatically. 

After winning in only his fifth Challenge Tour start in 2018, Hill finished the campaign with the lowest stroke average of the year and was well-placed for a graduation tilt in 2019. 

The 25-year-old had a relatively slow start to the year with two missed cuts in his first three events and by the time he had missed the cut at the Italian Challenge Open Eneos Motor Oil, Hill had only one top ten to his name. 

However, the following week was the catalyst for what became a stunning run of form. He progressed through the qualifier for the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open and went on to finish as joint low Scot at Renaissance Club. 

Hill returned to Challenge Tour duty and won immediately – at the Euram Bank Open – before another victory, two tied third places and one tied seventh place made up his next four starts as he rocketed to the top of the Road to Mallorca Rankings.

His final top five finish of the season arrived in the penultimate event, the Foshan Open, where four rounds in the sixties saw him secured a tie for third place and ultimately, second place on the Road to Mallorca. 

Hill will be aiming to follow in the footsteps of friend and countryman Robert MacIntyre in making the step up from the Challenge Tour to Rookie of the Year winner.

Calum Hill

Matthew Jordan 

The Englishman secured a total of seven top tens – including one victory – as he finished ninth on the Road to Mallorca Rankings to earn graduation to the European Tour at the first attempt in 2019.

Victory at the Italian Challenge Open Eneos Motor Oil came after back-to-back top ten finishes and he showed maturity beyond his years to defeat Lorenzo Scalise in a play-off at Terre dei Consoli Golf Club. 

The 23-year-old he cemented his spot inside the all-important top 15 with three further top tens, including at the lucrative Foshan Open and the season-ending Challenge Tour Grand Final. 

It was not only on the Challenge Tour where Jordan showcased his ability in 2019. He burst onto the scene at the Betfred British Masters in May by posting a course record nine under par 63 at Hillside Golf Club to take an early lead before finishing in a tie for 15th place. 

Jordan’s next European Tour start came at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and it was another impressive showing from the man from the Wirral. Rounds of 66-64-71-68 earned put him a tie for fifth place and earned him the biggest payday of his fledgling career. Expect big things from Jordan in 2020.

Matthew Jordan

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