Danish teenager Hojgaard rallies to clinch the UK Championship
BIRMINGHAM – Danish teenager Rasmus Hojgaard rallied from a five-shot deficit on Sunday with a 7-under 65 and won the UK Championship at The Belfry on the second play-off hole against Justin Walters of South Africa.
The 19-year-old Hojgaard won for the second time this season, following his victory in the Mauritius Open late last year that made him the first European Tour winner born after 2000.
Walters closed with a 70 and ran out of crucial putts. He holed a 4-foot par putt on the 18th hole in regulation that caught the right edge of the cup and curled in. He holed a 10-footer for par on the first extra hole at the 18th to extend the play-off. But he was well right of the 18th green the next time, pitched to 15 feet and missed the par putt.
Hojgaard calmly knocked in his 2-foot par putt to win the sixth and the final event of the tour’s “UK Swing” that featured all events in England and Wales, none with spectators.
It was a tough loss for Martin Kaymer, the two-time Major champion who hasn’t won since his eight-shot masterpiece at Pinehurst No. 2 to win the 2014 US Open.
He was tied for the lead with two holes to play, including the par-5 17th. Kaymer, who had made a lengthy par putt on the 16th to stay tied for the lead, hit a poor chip from just off the 17th green and made bogey. He missed a 15-foot birdie putt on the last to join the play-off. Kaymer shot 69 and tied for third with Benjamin Hebert, who also had a 69.
Hojgaard, who began the tournament with a 73 to fall nine shots behind, birdied the 16th and holed a 10-foot eagle putt on the 17th to tie for the lead, and he set the target at 14-under 274.
Walters had faded with a triple bogey on the eighth hole, and he was still three shots behind when he birdied the 14th, 16th and 17th holes to get into the play-off. But he failed to hit the 18th green from the fairway in the first play-off hole, and from a fairway bunker he left himself in poor position on the second play-off hole.
Hojgaard and Walters are in the US Open in three weeks at Winged Foot from a special UK Swing points list.