Danish golf authorities are going to have a hard time handing out awards for the 2018 season. There’s a queue of Danes in line for gongs. Add Lucas Bjerregaard’s name to the list.
The 27-year-old earned his second European Tour victory when he earned a one-shot win at the $5 million Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Bjerregaard returned a closing 5-under-par 67 around the Old Course at St. Andrews to win.
He was four shots behind defending champion Tyrrell Hatton at the start of the final round, and six shots off the pace after 12 holes. He took advantage of Hatton’s back-nine stumble to take the title.
Bjerregaard’s 15-under 273 was good enough for a one-shot victory over Hatton and Tommy Fleetwood. Hatton was looking to win the tournament for the third consecutive year and join Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie, Tiger Woods and Ernie Els as the only players to win the same European Tour event three seasons in a row.
Bjerregaard arrived in St. Andrews with seven top-10s this year, including second to Matthew Fitzpatrick in the Omega European Masters. It was only a matter of time before he added another W to last year’s Portugal Masters, his maiden European Tour win.
“I’m getting a little emotional,” Bjerregaard said. “It’s been a great year and now it’s just a whole lot better.”
Hatton was five shots ahead at one point, thanks to four consecutive birdies on the front nine. But he bogeyed the 10th after bunkering his tee shot, and dropped three more shots at the 11th, 15th and 16th.
“It didn’t really look like I was ever in it today, it looked like Tyrrell was going to take off with it,” Bjerregaard said. “I was trucking away at it. I’ve been playing well for a little while and I played really well today and I’m really pleased that it was enough.”
The 6-foot-3 Dane moves to 10th on the Race to Dubai and is in line for his best European Tour season after finishing 57th last year.
Bjerregaard’s win follows Thomas Bjorn’s successful Ryder Cup captaincy and Thorbjorn Olesen’s Ryder Cup debut, a debut that saw him drub Jordan Spieth 5 and 4 in singles. Olesen also won this year’s Italian Open. Danish amateurs got into the action last month with victory in the World Amateur Team Championships for the first time.
Aside from trying to join Faldo and company in the three-peat club, Hatton was looking for his first European Tour win since St. Andrews last year.
“There’s positives,” Hatton said. “Obviously finishing second is a good effort. It would have been pretty special to have three in a row. Didn’t work out, wasn’t meant to be.
“I started off well, scoring pretty well the front nine considering conditions were quite tough. Then just the momentum completely went after the tee shot on 10.”
Fleetwood finished runnerup for the second time in four years. He was second in 2014 to former Augusta State player Oliver Wilson. Fleetwood’s consolation is a move to second on the European Tour’s Race to Dubai behind Ryder Cup partner Francesco Molinari. The long-haired Englishman is keen to defend the Race to Dubai title he won last year.
“There’s still tournaments left,” Fleetwood said. “Keep your head down, keep practicing and keep trying to improve. We’ll see at the end of the year what kind of chance we’ve got or where we are but it’s nice to move in the right direction.
“All in all, a great week, really, and I’ve played some really good stuff. The game is obviously in a good place, take the positives from it and we go again when we play next.” Gwk