European Tour stars Thomas Detry, Rasmus Højgaard and Välimäki are all making their Major championship debuts at the U.S. Open this week
The arrival of the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot comes three months later than originally planned, but the impact of rearranging the schedule resulted in a significant positive for several European Tour players making their debut this week.
With typical qualifying events cancelled, ten players earned their way into the field through the European Tour’s UK Swing, with six of that number securing their first trip to a U.S. Open.
For mini Order of Merit winner Rasmus Hojgaard, who has captured two victories in his rookie season on Tour, the career milestone is even more significant. He, along with Thomas Detry and Sami Valimaki, are all making their first appearances in a Major Championship this week.
European Tour members making their #USOpen debuts this week.— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) September 15, 2020
A thread. 👇
Official World Golf Ranking: 66
The 19 year old Dane has already made a big impact during his rookie season on the European Tour, and heads to Winged Foot Golf Club following two victories in his first 15 starts.
The first of those wins was in just his fifth start at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open, where he became the third youngest player in history to win on the European Tour at 18 years and 271 days. Højgaard captured the title in dramatic fashion, making a final hole birdie in regulation play before closing out his victory with an eagle on the third play-off hole at Heritage Golf Club.
Arriving at the UK Swing, the young Dane finished as the runner-up at the Betfred British Masters hosted by Lee Westwood, tied sixth at the Hero Open, third at the English Championship, and earned the mini Order of Merit title with a play-off victory over Justin Walters at the ISPS HANDA UK Championship.
And while all eyes are on Rasmus in New York, his twin brother Nicolai will be competing in the European Tour’s Open de Portugal.
Official World Golf Ranking: 80
Thomas Detry secured his place in the field at Winged Foot through an impressive performance during the UK Swing.
Detry, who is still searching for his first European Tour victory, came incredibly close to his maiden title on two occasions, finishing as the runner-up to Sam Horsfield at both the Hero Open and Celtic Classic.
The Belgian, who earned his first professional victory on the European Challenge Tour back in 2016 and won the World Cup of Golf with friend Thomas Pieters in 2018, previously missed out on qualifying for the Open Championship in 2018 by a single spot.
“We’ve been close a few times,” said Detry. “I missed the Open a few years ago by a few points. I’m excited about it, my game feels good so I’m up for the challenge.”
Official World Golf Ranking: 107
After earning his Tour card through Final Stage at Qualifying School in 2019, Välimäki wasted little time in making his mark on the European Tour.
The 22 year old became just the fourth player from Finland to win on the European Tour, following in the footsteps of Mikko Illonen, Roope Kakko and Mikko Korhonen in just his sixth event – the 2020 Oman Open.
Following the resumption of the European Tour season in Austria Välimäki initially struggled, but then finished tied sixth and tied second during the Celtic Classic and ISPS HANDA Wales to secure a place in his first Major. Two weeks later, Välimäki recorded his third top 10 in a row at Valderrama.
He said: “It is a big bonus for sure to make it into the U.S. Open. It’s awesome, I’ve been waiting such a long time to get into Majors and now is the time.
"I’m going to go there and try win the tournament, like I do at every tournament.”
Who else is making their U.S. Open debut this week?
Nine other European Tour players will join Højgaard, Detry and Välimäki in making their first start in the U.S. Open this week.
Connor Syme, Adrian Oteagui and Romain Langasque – who earned his maiden European Tour title during the ISPS HANDA Wales Open – all qualified through the UK Swing.
Other European Tour players making their first U.S. Open appearance include Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Jazz Janewattananond, Kurt Kitayama, Mike Lorenzo Vera, Robert MacIntyre, Victor Perez and Matthias Schwab.