Ask a touring professional golfer what makes a good tournament and you will almost certainly get a host of different answers. Along with the quality and presentation of the course, the prize up for grabs and the accommodation, one common theme you’ll hear is the fans. The Made in HimmerLand, known until 2021 as the Made in Denmark, has a lot going for it but year after year it’s the fans who make this such a special event for those in attendance or just those watching on TV.
From the sound of plastic ducks being squeezed every time there is a birdie, the feature par three 16th hole with thousands of fans packed around the green (which has even seen a marriage proposal) to the beer tent that the players walk through on the way to the 14th tee, the Made in HimmerLand really is a special, unique tournament. Though short on history, having first been played in 2014, we have already seen some of Europe’s best land this and with its obvious allure to players we expect that classy roll of honour to continue.
2022: Oliver Wilson
At a time where the very essence of what it means to win a professional golf tournament was subject to fierce debate, Oliver Wilson’s tears after winning the Made In HimmerLand spoke volumes. In the eight years since his last win, Wilson had completely lost his golf game. He had to put in countless hours of toil to get back to a position where he could compete again but even then he needed a stroke of luck to secure the win.
It looked like a case of so near but so far as Wilson found himself trailing the in-form Ewen Ferguson approaching the final couple of holes. Two huge birdies on the back nine turned things around in dramatic fashion. Those birdies came courtesy of putts from 66ft and 64ft and culminated in a round of 67 which was enough to win by a single shot from Ferguson.
Battling the tears after the win was confirmed, Wilson told the media: “Everything I've done to this point to rebuild my game, I knew I could do it.” He also said that he felt calm playing the final couple of holes as he was happy to get into contention again. In that respect, his first win since the 2014 Alfred Dunhill Championship was the icing on the cake.
2021: Bernd Wiesberger
Title defences don’t come much better than Bernd Wiesberger’s performance at the 2021 Made in Himmerland. The Austrian seemed entirely unburdened by the extra expectation that is always placed on the shoulders of defending champions with a wire to wire victory.
After a wrist injury ended his hopes of playing in the 2018 Ryder Cup, Wiesberger resolved to do everything in his power to make sure that he could compete at the very top level once he regained his fitness. His four tournament wins since that injury show that his actions match his ambitions and mean that nobody else has won more European Tour events since his 2019 Made in Denmark triumph. Such was the quality of his golf in Denmark that Padraig Harrington has to seriously consider him as a captain’s pick for the Ryder Cup if he doesn’t do enough to make it in automatically. His win has moved him into the top 50 in the world rankings and given his form there is every chance that, one way or another, he will be teeing it up at Whistling Straits in September.
You might expect that the player with a one shot lead on Sunday would feel huge pressure trying to keep the chasing pack at bay. Not a bit of it. Wiesberger looked as relaxed as the guests in the Himmerland spa as he batted away the competition with a closing round of 64. This was a most impressive win for Wiesberger who ended up five strokes clear of Guido Migliozzi in second place.
The 2020 tournament was cancelled.
2019: Bernd Wiesberger
It was a case of something old and something new for the 2019 Made in Denmark (as this tournament was then known). Fans were delighted that the popular tournament returned to its spiritual home of Himmerland Golf & Spa Resort in Farsø but in a new position on the calendar in May to replace the slot vacated by the BMW PGA Championship. This move was welcomed by all associated with the tournament as it ensured the Made in Denmark would remain on the European Tour for five years. It also brought with it a boost in the prize fund to €3,000,000, of which a very tidy €500,000 went to the tournament winner, Bernd Wiesberger.
The winner’s cheque is always a good thing for a professional golfer but the win meant much more than just money to Wiesberger. It was the culmination of a whole lot of work to get back to a level where he could win on the European Tour having missed seven months of the previous year due to a wrist injury.
The affable Austrian felt good about his game heading into the week and held a one shot lead over Robert MacIntyre as they teed off in the final group on Sunday. That margin held all the way to the 16th hole when Wiesberger increased his lead to two shots, a buffer he would need as there was late drama on the 18th but he did enough to cling onto an important victory.
2018: Matt Wallace
Thomas Bjorn already had a huge amount on his plate before the 2018 Made in Denmark came to a thrilling conclusion. A legend of Danish (and European) golf, Bjorn is always in high demand at this tournament but his role as European Ryder Cup captain vastly increased his workload just one week before making his captain’s picks for Le Golf National. Arguably, the last thing Bjorn wanted was to have his plans shaken up but that is exactly what happened when Matt Wallace produced a gritty and high quality display of golf to win his third title of the season in a playoff.
It wasn’t just any playoff that Wallace won with Bjorn watching on. He triumphed over three rivals including another European golfing legend, Lee Westwood. The 28-year-old had to pull rabbit after rabbit out of the hat to make it into the playoff, making five birdies in his last six holes. That gave him a real sense of momentum to take into the extra holes and he saw out the win after two further trips up the 18th. That is not a bad audition for the Ryder Cup, proving you can produce your best golf when it matters, under immense pressure. Sadly, despite his heroics, it wasn’t to be for the English ace.
While Wallace ultimately fell short in his quest to force his way into Bjorn’s plans there was better news for another home favourite, Thorbjorn Olesen. He just about did enough to qualify for the Ryder Cup much to the delight of the fans at Silkeborg Ry Golfklub which was the Made in Denmark host for the first time.
2017: Julian Suri
The history of the European Tour is full of players who have cut their teeth on the Challenge Tour before stepping up to win on the main circuit. That is a path that an increasing number of players from outside of Europe are taking as the variety of courses, the competition and the lessons it teaches in terms of travelling can be priceless. Brooks Koepka is the most well known American graduate of both the Challenge Tour and European Tour and Julian Suri marked his intention to follow in Koepka’s footsteps with his win at the 2017 Made in Denmark.
Suri was effusive in his praise of the tournament, especially the thousands of fans who make it such a special atmosphere at Himmerland Golf & Spa Resort. “It was a blast. Especially in that atmosphere with the fans,” Suri said after the tournament before going on to assert that he believes in his ability to use this as a stepping stone to greater and greater success.
For every success story on the European Tour there are a huge number of disappointments and the most acute of them all belonged to David Horsey. One of the Englishman’s previous five European Tour wins came in this tournament in 2015 but he blew his third round lead with a tame final round that included a triple bogey on his final hole.