Sleep-deprived Nicolai Højgaard cards 5-under 65 in whirlwind PGA TOUR member debut

In his whirlwind debut as a full-time PGA TOUR member, Nicolai Højgaard delivered an impressive performance, carding a 5-under 65 at the Farmers Insurance Open in California, despite battling jetlag and limited preparation. This remarkable feat by the 22-year-old Dane, as reported by Paul Hodowanic, underscores Højgaard's emerging talent in the world of golf.

Just three days prior to his PGA TOUR debut, Højgaard finished T7 at the DP World Tour’s Hero Dubai Classic. He then embarked on a grueling journey, traveling 8400 miles across 12 time zones to California. With minimal sleep and little time for golf, he faced an uphill battle at the Farmers Insurance Open. Yet, upon arriving at Torrey Pines South Course—a course he had never seen before—he impressively shot a 5-under 67.

Højgaard’s performance is a testament to his exceptional skills. The South Course at Torrey Pines is known for its difficulty, playing more than two shots harder than the North Course. On a day where the combined score on the South Course was only 3-under compared to 179-under on the North Course, Højgaard’s 5-under 67 was a standout achievement. He ended the day just three shots behind leader Kevin Yu.

Speaking about his experience, Højgaard acknowledged the challenges of adjusting to different conditions and overcoming jetlag. His strategy was to push through until he acclimatized. This resilience is characteristic of Højgaard's approach, reflecting his rapid rise in the golfing world. His first full season on the PGA TOUR in 2024 follows a decorated early career. With top-15 statistical rankings in the last six months and a victory in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, his credentials are impressive. This victory, which saw him triumph over notable players like Rory McIlroy, Viktor Hovland, and Tommy Fleetwood, propelled him to No. 2 in the Race to Dubai.

Højgaard credits his experience with the European Ryder Cup team as pivotal in his career. Despite a modest record in the event, the exposure to the world's best players was invaluable. He joins players like Scottie Scheffler, who experienced a career surge after participating in the Ryder Cup, indicating the potential trajectory of Højgaard's career.

The young golfer's journey has been marked by significant milestones. Along with his brother Rasmus, he represented Europe in the 2018 Junior Ryder Cup and was instrumental in Denmark's victory in the 2018 Eisenhower Trophy. His individual achievements include winning the European Amateur at Royal Hague.

Looking ahead, Højgaard plans to focus primarily on PGA TOUR events, with a brief return to Europe for The Open Championship. He intends to spend the next six months in the United States, searching for a long-term home base while participating in the TOUR.

Højgaard's first round in California showcased his potential. Starting on the back nine, he quickly made his mark with birdies on No. 10 and 11. He maintained his 5-under score into the clubhouse, demonstrating his ability to adapt to new courses and conditions. As he prepares for his next round on the comparatively easier North Course, Højgaard's prospects in the PGA TOUR appear promising, bolstered by his skill, adaptability, and determination.