Denmark are the first ever GolfSixes champions after a 3-1 victory over Australia in the final at the Centurion Club.
The European Tour was breaking new ground in St Albans with 16 teams of two starting the weekend and battling it out first in a group stage and then a knockout over six holes in greensomes.
By Sunday evening only two teams remained and it was Thorbjørn Olesen and Lucas Bjerregaard who took home the trophy after a hard fought win over Scott Hend and Sam Brazel in front of an excitable crowd.
Entrance music, pyrotechnics and a sprinkling of celebrity gave the event a whole new feel but it was world class golf that proved to be the highlight, with Olesen claiming his second team win for Denmark in six months after his victory at the ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf alongside Søren Kjeldsen.
Denmark had finished second in Group A on Saturday and 2-1 victories over France and Italy got them to the final against Australia, who finished second in Group C before overcoming Thailand and Scotland on Sunday.
A birdie on the third gave Australia a 1-0 lead in the final but Denmark then won the final three holes to make golfing history.
Hend and Bjerregaard hit huge drives down the third but Olesen went long with the Danes’ second while Hend was left with 18 feet for an eagle. The two-time European Tour winner got down in two and with Denmark failing to get up and down, Australia led 1-0.
The scores were soon level again, though, as both Hend and Brazel put their tee-shots in the water on the fourth to record a bogey, with Denmark winning the hole in par.
A swift turnaround in fortunes was completed on the fifth as Bjerregaard put his tee-shot to four feet and Olesen finished the job to send Denmark up the last with a 2-1 lead.
Olesen was inches from putting Denmark’s second shot in the water on the sixth but an excellent recovery from Bjerregaard meant the Danes would have two putts for the win and Australia offered handshakes on the final green.
“It feels really good,” said Bjerregaard. “It’s been a couple of tough matches today. It’s been a little more business than yesterday. Yesterday was a little more banter and it was all good fun. But yeah, it feels good to sit here right now.
“I think it’s definitely got the crowds’ attention. I was really happy to see how many kids came out these last couple days, and hopefully that will get some of them into golf and think it’s fun.
“I wouldn’t mind a few events a year like this, especially if I have Thorbjørn as a partner. I could see it really taking off, no doubt. You could do it in many different ways. You could do a two‑man team. You could do individual. I think the fact that it only takes an hour and ten, 15 minutes to play, could make for good TV and people are not out here for necessarily seven hours to watch a round of golf,” he said.
Olesen echoed Bjerregaard’s sentiments.
“Six holes is very intense match play, playing only six holes, and every shot really counts,” adds Olesen. “If you get behind early on, it’s really tough. We managed to get it around a couple of times when we were down, but like Lucas said, it’s been so much fun. We definitely both very much enjoyed it.
“We’ve been very relaxed, Lucas and me, and just played our own game really, like Søren and me did at the World Cup. Focusing on our own game and trying to hit good shots every time and try to make the putts, not making it too complicated. I think we did that very well.
“We were quite consistent out there, and I don’t think we had a bogey for these two days. We made it tough for the opponent all the time, and they made a few mistakes in this final, which was very nice for us.”
Australia’s Scott Hend shared his disappointment in his team’s second-place finish, and commended the Danes on their win.
“It’s a tad disappointing, but Denmark played well and putted the last few holes a little better than us, so they deserved the win,” said Hend.
“Lucas hit a great shot into the fifth hole, and then Thorbjørn just rolled in a five‑footer. We pretty much knew they were going to make a birdie there. And then down 18, we had to try to make an eagle, so we pretty much thought they were going to make birdie at the very least. Where their ball finished up for the second shot, it’s just meant to be. Just one of those things,” he said.
Teammate Sam Brazel heaped praise on the inaugural GolfSixes event.
“It’s been a great week for everybody,” added Brazel. “It’s great to see so many kids kicking around. It was awesome to be part of it. Centurion put a great event on. To the members, the guests, the fans, it’s been fantastic.”
There was drama in the third/fourth place play-off as Scotland won a nearest the pin contest at the second attempt on the play-off hole to beat Italy 2-1.