Welcome to our new series where we will be looking at the top 5’s of all things golf. This could be anything from the top 5 holes on Tour to the top 5 style icons in golf history to the top 5 to the top 5 golfing movies of all time.
First up though, given that the Made in HimmerLand presented by FREJA is being playing on the European Tour this week, we will have a look at the top 5 Danish Golfers of all time.
Before we get into the top 5, there are a couple of honourable mentions to be made.
The first of the honourable mentions is Steen Tinning. It is perhaps a case of what might have been for Tinning as he was involved in a crash that badly injured his right arm five years after turning pro. Despite the setback, Tinning would go on to win 2 times on the European Tour in 2000 and 2002 before retiring in 2003 at the age of 41.
He would actually make one more appearance on the European Tour at the 2012 ISPS HANDA Wales Open, making the cut in a tune up tournament for a run on the European Seniors Tour. He made a successful transition to the tour, recording two wins, both in his maiden season.
Unfortunately, his major record holds him back from breaking into the top 5. He made 7 major appearances – all in the Open Championship – only making the cut once.
The second honourable mention goes to Ramus Hojgaard, someone at the opposite end of his career to Tinning. Hojgaard burst onto the scene at the tail end of 2019, winning the Mauritius Open at the age of 18 in only his 5th European Tour start. He then went on to win the ISPS HANDA UK Championship 8 months later in a superb run of form that saw him record five top-six finishes in six events.
To call Hojgaard one of Denmark’s best ever golfers at the age of 20 would be foolish, especially with the talent that has gone before him however if his early performances are anything to go by, he may just become the best player Denmark ever produced.
5. Lucas Bjerregaard
Bjerregaard looked like he was going to achieve great things when he won his first European Tour event in 2017 at the age of 26. Things got even better the following year when he won again, this time at the Alfred Dunhill Championship.
And the hot streak didn’t end there. 2019 looked like it could be the year for Lucas to break out onto the world stage. He finished fourth in the WGC-Match Play following wins over Henrik Stenson and Tiger Woods. He made the cut in three of the four majors, recording two top twenties and a T21st at the Masters. In May he reached a world ranking position of 42nd in the world.
But golf giveth and golf taketh away again.
A decision compete more on the PGA Tour in 2020 saw him miss 9 out of 9 cuts. This has had a knock on effect and between 2020 and 2021 he only made 6 of 17 cuts on the European Tour without even so much as a Top Twenty to his name. This week he has dropped outside of the world’s top 600 he faces a serious uphill battle to get back to his best.
But time is still on his side. He is only 29 and we hope he can recover his form and return to the winner’s circle soon.
4. Soren Hansen
Hansen was a wonderful golfer from tee to green with a smooth swing that gave the viewer the impression that he would never really hit a bad shot and it is a surprise to see that he only recorded 2 victories in 459 starts on the European Tour.
His golden years were in 07-09 where he seemed to have found an extra gear, amassing almost €4 million in prize money. Unfortunately his career went downhill after a 2009 season that saw him finish in the top ten of the US Open and the Open Championship. He was fined €850,000 by Danish tax authorities in 2010 and then suffered a wrist injury side-lined him mid-way through the 2012 season.
He could never rediscover the quality that had served him so well earlier in his career and ended up playing his final European Tour event – a missed cut at the Made in Denmark – in 2016 at the age of 42.
He is now a PGA Tour analyst and commentator for GOLFTV.
3. Anders Hansen
Similar to Soren Hansen, Anders didn’t win his fair share of tournaments, recording 3 victories in 442 starts. A dogged and consistent competitor with an all-round tidy game, one of the most surprising things about him is that he never made a Ryder Cup team. Indeed, he has cited that in past interviews as being his only regret in golf.
He had some prominence on the global stage and reached a world ranking high of 23rd in 2011. In 2007 he earned PGA Tour status though failed to keep it as he went the whole PGA Tour season without registering a top 10. He finished 3rd in PGA Championship in 2011 after having little success in majors prior to this. He is also a two-time winner of the European Tour’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship.
He called quits on his full-time playing career in 2015 at the age of 45. He would, however, play a total of 23 events from 2016-2019, making 13 cuts and recording two top six finishes, including a T3rd a the 2016 Portugal Masters, two shots behind eventual winner Padraig Harrington.
Now aged 50, it will be interesting to see if he decides to stage a comeback and give the Champions Tour a go.
2. Soren Kjeldsen
The third greatest male Danish golfer ever (at least according to this author) is Soren Kjeldsen. The diminutive Dane has played in 623 European Tour events, making 437 cuts and has recorded 4 wins. No one would ever mistake Soren for being a power player or trying to outmuscle a course but he has been consistently one of the best putters on the Tour since his debut in 1998.
Coming into the 2015 season and on the cusp of turning 40, Kjeldsen thought his career was starting to peter out. He had resigned himself to playing without being competitive and thought he would continue on like that for as long as he could.
How wrong he was.
The 2015 season proved to be the most successful of his career, amassing almost €2 million in earnings after winning the Irish Open, finishing runner up three times and posting 5 further top tens. 2016 was also a very strong season, recording 7 top tens in 23 events, two of which were Majors – the Masters and the Open Championship. In recent years his performances have dipped somewhat but I would not put it past him to rekindle that old magic.
This is made all the impressive given that Kjeldsen had endured a financial crisis during the global recession where it was reported that he lost €3 million. With this pressure on his shoulders as well as father time ticking on, it makes his resurgence a truly great feat.
For longevity and the ability to prevail and succeed in adversity, Kjeldsen more than deserves to be number 2 on this list.
1. Thomas Bjorn
It couldn’t be anyone else, could it? While all the golfers on this list are Danish, only one truly reserves the right to call himself the Great Dane.
Bjorn has been one of the standout players on the European Tour over the past two and a half decades, finishing in the top ten of the money rankings on 8 occasions. He played in 561 events and recorded 15 victories putting him in a tie for 16th on the all time European Tour victory list.
Bjorn featured in 4 Ryder Cups, 3 as a player and 1 as a captain, and ending up on the winning side each time. He claimed 4 points out of 9 matches. Even reached the top 10 in the world in 2001.
Perhaps the one mark against his career, if you could even call it that, was never winning a major. Three times he was a runner up, in the Open Championship in 2000 and 2003 and the PGA Championship in 2005. The most agonizing of these is perhaps the 2003 Open where he had a 1 shot lead with 4 holes remaining. He played the last 4 in four over par and ended up losing by one shot to Ben Curtis.
Bjorn turned 50 a few months ago and made his Champions Tour debut at the end of April. While he didn’t challenge on that occasion, there’s no doubt that he will be lifting silverware there at some point.
The Greatest of all the Danes in golf, Thomas Bjorn is without peer for top spot on this list.