Christoffer Bring became the fourth Dane to lift the trophy when he overhauled Sweden’s Ludvig Åberg on the closing holes to win the European Amateur Championship at the Golf du Médoc Resort in France.
Bring, 22, started the final round a single shot adrift of the Swedish world No 3 after opening rounds of 64, 64 and 69 and fell further behind after carding double-bogey 6 on his opening hole. But he fired six birdies in his next 17 holes to post 67 for a 20-under-par 264 aggregate and join compatriots Morten Backhausen (1993), Lucas Bjerregaard (2010) and Nicolai Højgaard (2018) as a winner of Europe’s premier amateur championship.
The victory earned Bring a spot in next month’s Open Championship at Royal St George’s where he will come face-to-face with Sergio García (1995) and Rory McIlroy (2006), both of whom have claimed this title in the past.
“I’m extremely happy (to get the chance to play in the Open),” he said. “It’s great. It’s pretty surreal right now. I can’t really believe it but it’s pretty cool.”
Bring went on to say the dropped shots on his first hole of the day may have been a benefit in disguise.
“It was a three-shot swing between Ludvig and I, but I guess I could play a bit more freely from there,” he said. “I think I relaxed a bit after that and just played my own game.
“It was nice to finish with six birdies in my last 17 holes.”
Åberg arrived in France with wins in the Jones Cup Invitational, the Prestige and the Thunderbird Collegiate already under his belt this season and he looked set to add another trophy to his collection when opening rounds of 65 and 61 saw the Swede post the lowest 36-hole score to par in the championship’s 35-year history with a 16-under-par aggregate of 126. The 61 also was the lowest round carded at Golf du Médoc but will not count as a record because preferred lies were in play following heavy rain in the lead-up to the tournament.
“I’m extremely happy. It’s great. It’s pretty surreal right now. I can’t really believe it but it’s pretty cool.”
At that stage, the 21-year-old Texas Tech sophomore already had fired 16 birdies and was living up to his billing as the highest-ranked player in the field. But after that the mistakes started to creep in and two rounds of 70 gave Bring the chance to overtake him.
Åberg’s 18-under-par aggregate left him two shots in front of Spanish world No 11 David Puig, who took the bronze medal with a closing level-par round of 71. Puig’s compatriot Joel Moscatel claimed fourth place on 270 with a 70 while Aron Júlíusson extended Iceland’s impressive run of recent results with a closing 65 that saw him advance to fifth place on 271.
Sixth place went to experienced German Jannik de Bruyn, who closed with 68 to finish a shot ahead of Switzerland’s Robert Foley on 272, while an international top-10 was rounded up by France’s Bastien Amat, Spain’s Victor García-Broto and Kiet van der Weele from the Netherlands who shared eighth place on 274.
This year’s championship attracted 144 competitors from 32 countries but COVID-19 travel restrictions meant that only a handful of British and Irish players made the trip across the channel to Golf du Médoc.
Another man who chose not to compete – albeit for entirely different reasons – was German world No 17 Matthias Schmid who claimed the title in Austria in 2019 and then made a successful defence in Switzerland last year.
Schmid elected to not go for the hat-trick but instead accepted an invitation to compete against the pros at the BMW International Open in Munich. It proved a sound decision on his part because he earned a T14 finish there by shooting 11-under 277.
Schmid will join Bring at the Open at Royal St George’s. His exemption was extended when last year’s championship was cancelled due to the pandemic.