Rasmus Hojgaard becomes third youngest European Tour winner in history with playoff victory in Mauritius


Rasmus Højgaard became the third youngest winner in European Tour history with play-off victory at AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open

Playing in just his fifth ever European Tour start, 18-year-old Rasmus Højgaard became the third youngest winner in the Tour's history by defeating Antoine Rozner and Renato Paratore in a three-man playoff in Mauritius.

The teenager, who became the first player born in the 21st century to graduate from the Qualifying School last month, birdied the 72nd hole to get in to the play-off and eagled the par-five 18th on his third attempt to earn the first professional victory of his career.

"This is a dream come true,"  Højgaard said. "It's amazing. To be on the European Tour so early is a dream come true and to be a winner now, it's incredible. I can't put it into words. I'm looking forward to the next challenge.

"I just tried to be patient and set up as many birdie chances as possible and see if I could hole putts.

"I had nothing to lose in this position (the play-off), it was just a driver all day. I hit three good approach shots into 18 and got it done on the third hole."

Højgaard, who started one shot behind after rounds of 66-69-66, followed up an opening birdie by converting a 12-footer for eagle at the par-five second to gain an early two-shot lead. 

But the Danish teenager was quickly caught by Paratore after he failed to get up and down for par at the fourth, and dropped his second shot in a row a hole later. 

Back-to-back birdies for Paratore at the sixth and seventh moved the Italian two-ahead, and he reached 19-under-par with another gain at the ninth for an opening 31 before giving away a shot at the 10th.

Højgaard got back to within one with a birdie on the seventh as the leaderboard began to get congested, and moved in a to a share of the lead at 18-under after holing a 50-footer for birdie at the 10th.

At one point the group on 18-under grew to seven players, but French rookie Rozner was the first to break out of it with a birdie at the 14th. 

Paratore had dropped back further with a bogey on 13, but recovered with a gain at 14 before joining Rozner at the top of the leaderboard to set the clubhouse target on 19-under. 

Rozner had a chance for a final-hole birdie but a par was enough to secure his place in the play-off, while Højgaard two-putted for his own birdie to join the pair on 19-under. Thomas Detry was tied on the same score with two holes to play, but his bogey-par finish left him out of the sudden death. 

On the first playoff hole Paratore was eliminated after finding the water, while both Rozner and Højgaard traded birdies on their first two trips back up the par-five 18th. 

On his third attempt, Højgaard made an eagle putt from around 12-feet (a similar distance to a chance he had on the first try), to earn his maiden European Tour title.

One of the first people to congratulate the youngster was Thomas Bjorn, who has already picked him out as a future star for Denmark, along with his identical twin brother Nicolai, who finished 2nd to Sergio Garcia at the KLM Open in September.

The brothers became widely known when they won the Eisenhower Trophy in 2018 for Denmark, as well as playing together in the Junior Ryder Cup, and both turned professional earlier this year.