GUIDONIA MONTECELIO, Italy – Identical twins, identical results.
Nicolai Højgaard sank a birdie in the 18th hole to win the Italian Open Sunday, a week after his identical twin brother, Rasmus, won the European Masters in Switzerland by also making a birdie with his last shot.
“To finish it off like that and a week after Rasmus won, it’s perfect,” Nicolai said.
It was the first time in the history of the European tour that brothers won rugby tournaments.
The 20-year-olds from Denmark are considered two of the best prospects on the continent.
With a wink to the future, Nicolai’s success came on the redesigned Marco Simone track just outside Rome, which will host the 2023 Ryder Cup.
“In a few years, I could definitely see how I was playing,” Nicolai said after collecting the winner’s check for $ 485,000 ($ 575,000). “It’s one of my biggest dreams – to win the Ryder Cup. Not just to take part, but to win … and I would love to come here to Rome in 2323.”
And he does not have to look far to find the perfect match for four and four ball.
“My brother and I would like to play together,” Nicolai said. “We did it at home when we played events. It’s definitely a goal of ours and I can’t wait to come back.”
For his first victory on the European Tour, Nicolai scored a final round of 71 to finish a shot ahead of the striking 2018 Ryder Cup Tommy Fleetwood and Adrian Meronk of Poland.
Rasmus, who finished 18th this week, walks the track again shortly after his final round to see his brother complete the victory, and then rushes out on the 18th green for a festive hug with Nicolai.
And to think that Nicolai was the last man added to the course this week with a game card from the Italian Golf Federation.
Nicolai retained the lead in the final round but ran the risk of ending up in a playoffs when his tap shot landed on the 626 yard, par-5 18th hole in the left rough. After laying down safely, however, Nicolai turns his third shot to within four feet of the hole and makes the subsequent shot to clinch the trophy.
“At 18, I knew I had to make four,” Nicolai said. ‘I’ve been nervous many times, but none of it (at 18). I could not move the putter almost to be honest.
“I got quite emotional when I ran the putt and watched to see my caddy and Rasmus with my girlfriend and his girlfriend here.”
Nicolai’s previous best result was a second place behind Sergio Garcia during the Dutch Open in 2019, while Rasmus’ victory in Crans-Montana was his third on the European tour.
Nicolai rode the green for an eagle at the par-4 16th hole on Saturday.
“I rode the ball very well the first three days and today was a bit shaky,” Nicolai said. “Everything was a little shaky today, but I would say that my length of tea was probably the biggest benefit this week.”
Francesco Laporta of Italy finished fourth, two strokes back.